27 November 2017

Visualized: Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea

Previous Match Infographics: Sevilla (a), Southampton (h), West Ham (a), Maribor (h), Huddersfield (h), Tottenham (a), Maribor (a), United (h), Newcastle (a), Spartak Moscow (a), Leicester (a), Burnley (h), Sevilla (h), Manchester City (a), Arsenal (h), Hoffenheim (h), Crystal Palace (h), Hoffenheim (a), Watford (a)

Match data from WhoScored, except average position from the SofaScore app. 

48 hours later, and it's slightly easier to stomach. 48 hours later, and it's easier to give Chelsea their due.

That was an excellent defensive performance.

Chelsea blocked a higher proportion of Liverpool's shots than any other Liverpool opponent since Klopp became manager. Nine of Liverpool's 16 shots were blocked – 56.25%. Only two other matches saw more than 50% of Liverpool's shots blocked: 12 of 23 (52.2%) in the 0-2 loss at West Ham in 2015-16 and seven of 13 (53.8%) in the 1-1 at United last season.

Liverpool didn't have a non-blocked shot from inside the box until Salah's goal in the 65th minute.

Only the losses at Manchester City (red card) and Tottenham (two-down before taking a shot) saw Liverpool attempt a higher proportion of shots from outside the box.

Chelsea made six successful tackles inside their own penalty box, more than any other Liverpool opponent this season: four on Salah and two on Sturridge, all six prior to Liverpool finally scoring.

That's what Liverpool's attack forced Chelsea to do. Which, unfortunately, they did quite well. Aside from one excellently-worked move between Salah and Coutinho, featuring Oxlade-Chamberlain's throughball and a slight deflection from Bakayoko.

It was Mo Salah's 15th goal in all competitions this season. It's not even December. Liverpool's top scorer in any full season since 2014-15 was Coutinho last season with 14.

And it's not as if Liverpool defended badly either.

Only Tottenham – a 2-1 Chelsea win – and Manchester City – a 1-0 City win – restricted Chelsea to fewer shots on-target. Those two games, as well as Chelsea's 3-3 home draw with Roma, were the only ones where Chelsea have had less possession than they did on Saturday. Only Arsenal, City, and Roma have held Chelsea scoreless this season.

And given Liverpool's frequent set-play failures, it's worth noting that Chelsea had eight corners and a handful of free kicks in dangerous positions with none truly threatening, a couple of blocked shots and off-target headers to show for it. Both Matip and Wijnaldum had better set-play chances at the other end of the pitch, despite Chelsea being a much taller side.

But Chelsea lucked into a goal five minutes from full-time. I don't care what Willian says. That was a fluke. That was an attempted cross to the back post. Maybe Mignolet could have moved quicker to adjust his feet, and Henderson should have done better when trying to clear Gomez's header earlier in the move, but it was unlucky for Liverpool and very lucky for Chelsea all the same. And it was just the second league goal that Liverpool have conceded at Anfield this season.

Again, it wasn't a bad performance, and it's not the worst result. Especially with three changes to the front six that's started the last two matches. Especially without both Firmino and Mané.

Liverpool needed to rest players – in order to press early, which Klopp understandably thought was the best way of unsettling Chelsea; because of the packed fixture list; and given how tired more than a few looked by the end of the match. Liverpool were playing the defending league champions, who'd scored four in each of their last two games, and who could and did rest a lot of players in their midweek Champions League match. Liverpool scored a good goal, Liverpool responded to the absolute failures in the second half at Sevilla last Tuesday.

And for long spells, Liverpool were the better side, even if not by much. And so this ends with the same result we've seen the previous two times these sides met in this fixture.

I'd feel a lot better about this had we not suffered similar disappointments too often already this season. Had we not seen yet another draw from a winning position, had we not seen yet another late goal conceded.

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