Liverpool's Luis Suarez (left) and Philippe Coutinho react after Willian scores Chelsea's second goal. Chelsea won 2-0. Liverpool will need to put the defeat behind them and get on with business when they take on Crystal Palace on Monday. – AFP Photo
THE defeat to Chelsea was the biggest deflating loss this season. On the cusp of making history, Liverpool got run over by the Chelsea bus which, in a way, revealed a few issues with the current team.
There is no Plan B, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Liverpool probed and jabbed the layers of Chelsea’s defence which packed the middle and gave up the flanks to Liverpool’s attack.
On that day though, Liverpool were impotent when it came to exploiting the space given as they couldn’t penetrate the front of the defence. Glen Johnson had a sub-par game and Iago Aspas’ cameo showed why he doesn’t play often. It was the first game in which Liverpool failed to score since the home loss to Southampton in September last year.
When Liverpool figured out what they needed to do, it was a bit too late. By overloading their attack, Chelsea launched the killer blow after sucker-punching the Reds late in the first half.
To me, there was nothing wrong with how Chelsea set out their team that day. There are different tactics teams employ and we have to figure out how to overcome that.
Although the result hurts Liverpool’s chances of winning the league, they have a good chance of challenging again next season if Brendan Rodgers plays the team the same way he has in the last 12 games.
The reason is percentages. The loss to Chelsea is the second home loss of the season, and with the one draw at Anfield, Liverpool have the third best home record after Manchester City and Chelsea. They were joint first before the Chelsea game.
But Liverpool’s away form is tops in the EPL and that kind of form is the result of how Rodgers has the Reds playing. Surely there will not be another 11-game winning streak but over the season, and with a few improvements, Liverpool should challenge again.
Getting the right additions is important as Liverpool have the thinnest squad among the top four teams, and even among the top seven teams minus Everton. Players returning from loans will help but reinforcements will be needed when Liverpool play in the Champions League next season.
The game against Chelsea showed that what Liverpool need is physicality and power. Players like Mohamed Salah and Willian, two of Rodgers’ targets this season, are giving that to Chelsea. The suspension of Jordan Henderson has robbed Liverpool of a lot of dynamism in midfield and it’s on the flanks that Liverpool need an infusion of power and attacking play.
Rodgers will be handed a transfer budget and the lesson learnt from this season is don’t go for young players who need nurturing. Luis Alberto is a fine player but he is acclimatising to the premiership. Aspas is a flop and Mamadou Sakho, although an imposing figure, wins the lowest percentage of headers among the Liverpool centrebacks.
It’s power and physicality that will be needed as Liverpool’s opponents on Monday, Crystal Palace, play that way and have done the business to ensure survival in the EPL.
By the time Liverpool play Palace, and even though it is a must-win, they will know just how Chelsea and Manchester City have done over the weekend. Pressure will surely be at its height ahead of that match and it will be important for Liverpool to overcome that and put last week’s loss behind them.
The assignment now is very simple – just beat Palace.
Jagdev Singh Sidhu thinks Liverpool will beat Crystal Palace and hopes Everton beat Manchester City.