English Premier League: A negative tie between Liverpool and Chelsea is a reflection of their position in the competition

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  • Phil McNulty – Football Editor-in-Chief
  • BBC

January 22, 2023

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Action-free match

The confrontations between Liverpool and Chelsea, in the English Premier League, are known for the excitement and enthusiasm, like other traditional matches, between the major teams. But it was different this time.

When the referee, Michael Oliver, blew the final whistle, there was almost complete silence at Anfield, reflecting that the match was not as fun as a score of zero to zero might suggest.

Anfield fans were very disappointed when they watched two giants from the English Premier League, who are going through a short period, and they are performing below the level expected of them.

Both sides can find mitigating circumstances for this disappointing performance. On the one hand, the Liverpool team suffers from many injuries among its ranks, while the visiting team has received a large number of new players, and is still looking for the required harmony in the starting line-up.

However, the two teams include a sufficient number of distinguished players, which makes them able to perform better than the mediocrity that characterized the match, in ninety minutes of play.

The current position of the two teams in the English Premier League standings reflects the extent of their decline, after years of competing for the biggest titles in world football.

After the final whistle, Liverpool ranked eighth, and Chelsea came two places behind, with nine points below the first four places qualifying for the Champions League competition, after a match that saw only 5 shots on goal.

Nor was it the best way for Jurgen Klopp to celebrate his 1,000th match in charge.

The general feeling after the match was that if Liverpool and Chelsea had finished the season in the Champions League, both Klopp and Graham Potter would be very happy.

It must be that both Klopp and Potter will try to look for some positive points in the performance of his team, in a lackluster match, and Chelsea may be waiting for something positive from the newcomers to its ranks.

Mikailo Modric was the focus of attention for Chelsea and Arsenal as soon as Shakhtar Donetsk announced his willingness to part with his 22-year-old player.

Arsenal officials hoped to include the player, before Chelsea snatched him from them. And those who watched his performance during the 35 minutes he played know why the competition for his contract was intense.

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Modric struck fear into the heart of veteran Liverpool player James Milner, when he played, unusually, in the right-back position, in front of the speed and strength of the newcomer in the ranks of Chelsea, at a value of 89 million pounds.

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Milner was forced to receive a yellow card, due to using his hands to stop Modric while he was outpacing him. No wonder Klopp replaced him with defender Trent Alexander-Arnold.

One of his shots ended in the side netting, and he managed to penetrate the Liverpool defense more than once, thanks to his speed and dribbling, but he did not achieve the desired goal, and yet the capabilities he showed are encouraging.

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Milner had a hard time facing Modric

The other Chelsea player, Benoit Badiasil, showed solidity in defence, although it was he who missed his team’s best chance when he allowed Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson to save his own goal from an easy header.

And Klopp could be proud of keeping a clean sheet in the absence of the rock of defence, Virgil van Dijk. But Liverpool’s level is very far from that with which it competed for four titles last season, won the League Cup, and defeated Chelsea on penalties, after a goalless draw.

The situation can be understood to some extent, given that Liverpool is playing without its defender Van Dyck, and the three injured Luis Diaz, Diego Jota, and Roberto Firmino. But this alone does not explain the absence of the usual dynamism in the team.

Klopp added to his squad, Cody Gacbo, at £45m. He is currently in the process of adapting to the Premier League. He found it difficult to impose himself, contenting himself with one shot, which was saved by the Chelsea goalkeeper in the second half. Klopp will gradually bring him in, as he did with Darwin Nunez.

But the reality is that Liverpool and Chelsea are really going through a difficult period.

Liverpool failed to win in the last three matches in the English Premier League, and this has not happened to the team since 2021.

Chelsea have not won away from home in their last six Premier League matches, their worst performance since September 2015.

For this reason, Anfield fans did not react to the final whistle in that match. He saw that it was a match between two teams in the middle of the standings, and therefore, it must be at this level.

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