“Another major test hurdled” to enhance title challenge belief – Media on Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool

30 September 2018

The media were full of praise for Liverpool’s fearless performance in the 1-1 draw at Chelsea and feel the result only enhances belief of a serious title charge.


Liverpool ensured the unbeaten start to the Premier League season was kept intact with a fully merited point at Stamford Bridge.

Super-sub Daniel Sturridge’s stunning curler a minute from time rescued a draw after Eden Hazard put the hosts ahead with a crisp finish on 25 minutes.

It was a gripping contest and excellent result for the Reds, who were impressive throughout and could have taken all three points with more ruthlessness in the final third.

Jurgen Klopp will be delighted with his players’ efforts after taking another valuable point at a top-four rival.

Here’s how the media assessed events at Stamford Bridge.

 

Reporters unanimously agreed it was a great game and a very good point for the Reds

For Football365, Matt Stead thought it was a fantastic contest and noted how refreshing it was to go at each other:

Chelsea and Liverpool are well-matched, but instead of trying to neutralise the threat of the other, they sought only to accentuate their own positives. They simply played to their own strengths.

This was a 1-1 draw between two elite Premier League teams, but both sets of fans and neutrals alike leave satisfied, where all too often, there is a bitter, disappointing taste left in the mouth.

The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce felt a point was the least Liverpool deserved and boosts confidence for a serious title charge:

Liverpool’s perfect start to the Premier League season is over but momentum has been retained. This is a result which enhances rather than damages their prospects of mounting a title challenge.

[…]

A point was the least they deserved having outplayed Maurizio Sarri’s side for long periods.

Our own Henry Jackson lauded the character shown by Klopp’s side, assessing the result as the sort champions dig in to collect:

The celebrations on the pitch, in the stands and on the sidelines told you how big it felt – whisper is quietly, but it’s the kind of things champions do.

It is another major test hurdled in what is a touch run of fixtures, and to remain undefeated in the league after such a tricky start speaks volumes about the character of this team.

ESPN’s Mark Ogden thought both teams showed they are serious title contenders and that Chelsea’s form has opened the title hunt to a three horse race:

City and Liverpool are going to slug it out at the top of table; both teams are strong and Liverpool have improved significantly since last season due to a major spending spree.

[…]

Therefore, while Chelsea might be third favourite in the race, they are a horse with pedigree and cannot be ruled out.

 

Reporters were impressed with Liverpool’s dominant display but also highlighted areas for improvement

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 29, 2018: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the equalising goal with team-mates and the supporter during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

First of all, the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor was impressed with the Reds’ swagger and fearlessness in taking the game to Chelsea:

The visitors certainly moved the ball in the manner of a team with serious aspirations to finish the season with Manchester City, not just Manchester United, in their rearview mirror.

They never seemed too disheartened as their missed chances racked up and there was something profoundly impressive about the way they took the game to their opponents.

Guardian colleague Barney Ronay was impressed by the control of the performance and pondered which version of Klopp’s side is actually the ‘real Liverpool’:

And while there will be concern at the sheer number of chances missed, there was a resilience to Liverpool here.

[…]

It is bit of a puzzle: which is the real Liverpool? The fast-breaking dervishes of the second half of last season, powered by the chancy brilliance of Salah’s goal rush? Or the more gristly, more controlled team that has tended to grind a little more, to come on strong rather than devour opponents from the start?

The BBC’s Phil McNulty thought a big positive was how many chances Liverpool created at the home of a title rival:

Klopp will feel the negative of the end of Liverpool’s 100% start to the Premier League season – but he can reflect on a performance that resulted in so many chances created on opposing territory against a team they will rightly regard as close rivals in pursuit of the title.

The Mirror’s Alex Smith felt Klopp should have learned from the League Cup tie and assigned someone to man-mark Hazard:

Jurgen Klopp may have made a mistake by not planting a man on Hazard at all times.

The German was given a matinée performance on Wednesday night of Hazard’s current form and how to deal with him.

The Independent’s Miguel Delaney still thinks the Reds still need to tighten up in defence:

Liverpool, as against Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain, are still a bit too open at the back; still not quite as assured as wins against more moderate opposition have made out.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Liverpool's Naby Keita (left) and Chelsea's N'Golo Kante during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

David Lynch, of the Evening Standard, thought Liverpool’s starting midfield were outshone by their Chelsea counterparts and thinks Naby Keita can bring more attacking thrust:

James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum have all played a key role for the Reds this term, but it felt like their weaknesses were exposed at times here despite playing well for long periods.

[…]

Klopp may need to consider bringing Naby Keita in to start more regularly if he is to expect his engine room to work just as well, especially considering the Guinean’s positive impact here.

ESPN’s Steven Kelly expressed frustration and concern over the on-going struggles of the front three:

Finishing has once again let Liverpool down. The front three were the cornerstone of their splendid efforts last season but they will need to start bringing their A game soon or the team will be punished.

The Telegraph’s Daniel Taylor focussed on Mohamed Salah’s struggles and explained how the Egyptian is still playing a key role despite lacking goals:

To say Salah is falling short of last season’s heights would be to omit the fact he is still stretching opposition defences, always showing for the ball and, for long periods, a difficult, elusive opponent.

 

Daniel Sturridge was lauded for his stunning equaliser and reviving his Anfield career

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 29, 2018: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge scores an equalizing goal during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Pearce was in awe of Sturridge’s goal and praised the striker for resurrecting his Reds career through “sheer dedication”:

It was a moment of magic against his former club – a piece of awe-inspiring brilliance which truly announced Sturridge’s thrilling resurgence at the highest level.

[…]

But rather than throw in the towel, Sturridge dug deep. Being away from Anfield gave him an extra appreciation of what he had and through sheer dedication he has forced his way back into Klopp’s plans. He’s fitter, stronger and hungrier.

For Goal.com, Neil Jones believes Sturridge has already repaid Klopp’s faith not to sell him and is adamant the striker will play a crucial role this season:

Having chosen not to cash in on the England man in the summer, Klopp’s faith has already been repaid.

[…]

Fit, sharp and scoring, he could be a key figure if Klopp’s side are to keep themselves at the top of the Premier League table. Not many sides have a striker of his quality to call on as a backup.

Lynch believes the goal-scorer is now seriously pushing for a role in Klopp’s strongest starting team:

The former Chelsea man has three goals to his name this season despite seeing his playing opportunities restricted by Klopp’s first-choice front three and is surely knocking on the door to start more regularly now.

Meanwhile, the Mail’s Ian Herbert believes it is a sign of Liverpool’s progress over the last two years that a player of Sturridge’s talent is currently a back option:

But it is a measure of how far Liverpool have come in the last few years that Klopp counts Sturridge – an old-style centre who does not exactly fit the new Liverpool – as one of the subsidiary players.

 

Liverpool’s defenders earned most of the plaudits when reporters discussed the standout performers

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 29, 2018: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (left), Joe Gomez (right) and Eden Hazard (centre) during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Stead praised Alisson’s all-round display and felt he showed why he is such an upgrade on Simon Mignolet:

He was signed for his confidence on the ball, but also for his proactive decision-making. Too often Simon Mignolet would let such moments pass him by, relying on his shot-stopping ability instead of cutting attacks off at the source.

The difference is immense, and the entire defence knows that they can fall on the safety net behind them instead of fearing the worst.

Our own Joanna Durkan was in awe of Virgil van Dijk’s performance:

He was, again, a man mountain and a show of resilience alongside Gomez, making timely interventions as Chelsea took advantage of the space created by the full backs.

Aerially dominant once more and was always looking to put the Reds on the front foot. A true leader of the side in defence.

And Kelly praised Joe Gomez’s work and assessed that the youngster is now “clearly the obvious partner” van Dijk:

Clearly the obvious choice to partner Virgil van Dijk now, he defended well and was unnerved in possession. Still has the odd lapse when his partner rescued him, but the youngster returned the favour on a couple of occasions.

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