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Media in awe of Liverpool’s “epic” draw with Chelsea but title hopes evaporate

The watching media were blown away by Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Sunday, but the Reds’ soft centre was bemoaned.

Man City‘s win at Arsenal on Saturday cranked up the pressure on the Premier League title rivals and they played out a thrilling clash at Stamford Bridge.

Goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah looked set to send Liverpool on their way to a priceless victory, but defensive issues reared their ugly head again.

Chelsea were level before the two teams went in for half-time and that’s the way things stayed until the final whistle.

Here’s a look at how the media reacted to Liverpool’s draw.

 

It was impossible not to mention the brilliance of the match…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 2, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates with team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jason Burt of the Telegraph was in awe of the entertainment on show:

“What an epic. What an encounter; a raw match that summed up the brilliance and the compelling appeal of this crazy competition but also its chaos and its controversy and its abandonment of control.

“It had everything as Chelsea and Liverpool relentlessly went at each other. It felt miserly that they only came away with a point apiece.

“Both deserved more.”

The Guardian‘s David Hytner was similarly entertained:

“It had been tempting to fixate on Thomas Tuchel’s decision to drop Romelu Lukaku from the Chelsea squad after that interview.

“But it was a measure of what followed once the first whistle had blown that the club’s record signing – and all the drama around him – was swiftly relegated to footnote status.

[…]

“Liverpool played a full part in a richly entertaining spectacle, their goals coming from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah; the former snapping a nine-game scoring drought, the latter continuing his red-hot touch.

“Both of them now depart for the Africa Cup of Nations, providing the latest curve ball for Jurgen Klopp, who was missing here after testing positive for Covid.”

The Daily Mail‘s Martin Samuel was full of praise for both sides’ efforts:

“A great result for Manchester City, the cynics will say. Ignore them. This was a great result for everybody. Those in blue, those in red, and each and every colour in between. We saw a great football match. Probably the best of the season; probably not to be matched. It was a privilege to be here.

“To hand three points to one of these teams, then, and none to the other, would be sacrilege. Actually, to limit them to just the one each seems somewhat stingy. If ever there was a case for splitting three points for a draw here it was.

“Short-changing those who cannot be separated is supposed to encourage attacking play, but Chelsea and Liverpool could not possibly have gone at it any harder from start to finish. The last game of the winter holiday period can be anti-climatic. Tired legs, tired minds, talent rested, others injured.

“Instead, these players treated and entertained us all. If they were still going, we’d still be watching.”

 

Liverpool’s disappointing loss of their lead was also touched upon…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 2, 2022: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Burt was unimpressed by the Reds’ soft underbelly:

“There are big questions for both clubs. For Chelsea it is how will they manage the situation around Lukaku – and surely he would have made a difference even from the bench here? – and the sober analysis that they have now drawn five of their last six home league games in a seasonal slump.

“For Liverpool it is the frustration of surrendering a two-goal lead, the lack of game-management when ahead and, now, how they will cope without Salah and Mane as they fly out for the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

“The pair are simply irreplaceable.”

This Is Anfield‘s Jack Lusby blamed the midfield on the day, calling for summer reinforcements:

“Given the enforced absences, there were few surprises when the teamsheet was released at 3.30pm – bar the inclusion of James Milner in midfield.

“Milner will turn 36 on Tuesday, but was preferred to both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita, as Liverpool’s coaching staff opted for hardened experience in a high-stakes tussle – perhaps, in part, to cater for the absence of Klopp.

“It seemed a strange call, but looked to have paid off as Milner’s bustling energy dominated the midfield in the early stages, until he visibly tired and Chelsea gained a foothold in the engine room.

“Far from it was Milner the sole contributor, either, with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson both struggling in a unit that gave Chelsea far too much time and space.

[…]

“Like Milner, Henderson is now over 30, while Fabinho cannot be relied upon to hold things together on his own, making midfield a clear priority in the summer.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 2, 2022: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' reacts during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Goal‘s Neil Jones rued the lack of ruthlessness on show from the visitors:

“There were mitigating circumstances – injuries, suspensions, Covid cases and the absence of their manager, Jurgen Klopp, for example – but the Reds will rue their own carelessness, for sure.

“This was another game they could and should have won.

“This was their sixth draw of the campaign, and in five of them they have led. Two years ago, they were relentless, a team capable of shutting down games with almost robotic ease, but since clinching that elusive Premier League title in 2020, that ruthless streak has deserted them.

“And it is that which will cost them this season.”

 

It appears as though the Reds’ title chances could now be over…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 2, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Independent‘s Miguel Delaney felt the result was only a good one for Man City:

“A classic game for neutral fans, but also Manchester City. Both Chelsea and Liverpool put everything into this pulsating 2-2 draw, to the point the intensity just had to trail off, and it might mean the title race does too.

“It all means that City are 10 points clear of Chelsea with the same number of games played, and 11 of Liverpool with one more.

“The truth was that necessity was the mother of intensity in this case, as both teams played like they knew they absolutely had to win. They only ended up hurting each other, while entertaining everyone else.”

Jones doesn’t feel Jurgen Klopp‘s men have what it takes to pip City:

“By half-time, Liverpool’s lead was gone, and by full-time, surely, so were their chances of catching Manchester City.

“We can probably write Chelsea off as well, as it happens. This game, wild, unpredictable and about as intense as it gets, may have shown why these two sides are so far ahead of the other 17 in the league, but the truth of the matter is that it also showed why neither of them are likely to get near Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions.

“It finished 2-2, a result to be celebrated only at the Etihad Stadium. City’s gap is 10 points to Chelsea and 11 to Liverpool, who boast a game in hand but will now be without both Salah and Mane for the remainder of January. On this evidence, they will struggle to cope.”

Finally, the Liverpool Echo‘s Paul Gorst highlighted why the Reds will miss out on glory:

“Klopp will no doubt refuse to throw in the towel, but the neutrals will struggle to dream up the scenarios that will invoke a City implosion now.

“Perhaps that is the difference between now and two years ago.

“Where once Liverpool were able to respond emphatically to the adversity in their path, now, when confronted with the same set of obstacles, they are unable to exact maximum points from the challenge.

“Off nights like the defeats against West Ham and Leicester can happen, but damaging draws with Brighton, Brentford and Chelsea – games where Liverpool have held leads – have not yielded full marks.

“And that, ultimately, is what will cost them a proper tilt at regaining the championship.”

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