Well that wasn’t pretty was it? Chelsea received a harsh reality check at Anfield, ending their improved run of form. Liverpool dominated the match, leaving Chelsea and their traveling fans with nothing but disappointment. Diogo Jota opened the scoring on 23 minutes, slipping through the gap between Benoit Badiashile and Thiago Silva. Conor Bradley then doubled Liverpool's lead, exploiting Chelsea's vulnerability on the break.
Despite Darwin Nunez missing a penalty just before half-time, Mauricio Pochettino's triple halftime change didn't alter the course of the game. Liverpool continued their dominance, with Dominik Szoboszlai heading past Djordje Petrovic to secure the third goal. Although Christopher Nkunku replied, Luis Diaz ensured it remained a mere consolation. The evening proved massively disappointing and frustrating for Chelsea and their fans.
Poor officiating despite loss
To add even more insult to injuries, CFC was denied two penalties, leaving Mauricio Pochettino to lament both refereeing decisions and a lackluster performance from his side. Paul Tierney rightfully booked Ben Chilwell for diving before half-time. However, he overlooked punishing Virgil van Dijk for a tackle on Conor Gallagher, despite VAR reviewing the incident where Van Dijk's knee collided with Gallagher just outside the six-yard area - very questionable.
Another penalty claim against Van Dijk occurred after Nkunku's goal, with VVD fouling Nkunku from the back, yet no call was made. While the Chelsea uproar ensued, the game was already far beyond reach, but the early Gallagher call could have potentially altered the match's complexion.
Poor away form continues to frustrate
Under Mauricio Pochettino's guidance, Chelsea has been up-and-down, notably at Stamford Bridge, where they have remained unbeaten in all competitions since October 28th. However, there's ample room for progress in their away performances, as they arrived at Anfield with five losses in their last six road games across all competitions.
While a victory seemed unlikely, Chelsea may feel aggrieved by a couple of penalty decisions that went against them, potentially leading to a closer contest. Initially, appeals were dismissed when Conor Gallagher went down in the box under pressure from Virgil van Dijk. Later in the second half, van Dijk appeared to clip Christopher Nkunku inside the box, and once again there was no call.
Nkunku's goal marked a positive return from injury for the visitors, but ultimately, they were outperformed as Liverpool displayed a performance that will make their title rivals take notice.
WHERE IS THE MIDFIELD?
Pochettino has received some leniency due to recent results, although against lower-level opponents. However, his setup, featuring Caicedo as a lone midfielder in the build-up with Enzo Fernandez playing higher up, proves ineffective against stronger opposition. This approach hampers our buildup, leaving Caicedo isolated, and outnumbered in the center. When possession is lost, often only three players defend – the two center backs and Caicedo.
It becomes more perplexing when Cole Palmer, the striker, drops deeper to initiate attacks due to this system. After observing his side being outnumbered in the midfield for over an hour, Pochettino's decision to substitute Caicedo and have Fernandez play the same way without support is just puzzling.