A game that was meant to be a dress rehearsal for next week’s Europa League final for Liverpool ended up with a lot to be desired from the Reds. Chelsea, more notably Eden Hazard has looked in delicious form in recent weeks with the Belgian having scored some gorgeous goals to make up for lost time. Last season’s Player of the Year stepped up once again and ripped through the Liverpool defence to ensure Liverpool were on the back-foot for almost the entirety of the game.
It seemed as though Liverpool were trying, but still weren’t. There was just mechanical hard work in some places, but little creativity to go alongside, especially in what has become a persistent problem – the midfield.
The midfield largely looked dud. Emre Can made a miraculous recovery to come for the second leg of the Europa League semi-final. The adrenaline that made him so effect upon return was missing and the German looked lacklustre. He did attempts to drive Liverpool forward from the midfield but wasn’t successful. He made no key passes in the entirety of the game and the his two attempts of passes inside the box were unsuccessful too. 3 successful tackles and 4 interceptions do tell you that he was involved in the defensive side of the game.
James Milner has really stepped up his game in recent weeks. There is little doubt about how much works he puts in and that was all there once again; however, little creativity or imagination to go alongside ensured it resulted in nothing.
Joe Allen has been in really good form recently as well, and his introduction once again changed the game for the better for Liverpool. Fans who were on his case sometime back, are definitely impressed too and considering his contribution in just 20 minutes, there is little doubt the Welshman deserves a start in the final against Sevilla. He didn’t do something extraordinary, but provided the team and most importantly the dead and unenthused midfield with some much needed energy.
Philippe Coutinho, on paper, had 5 key passes. But after the first 20 minutes, where Liverpool were just generally better, the Brazilian almost completely disappeared. Roberto Firmino had a mixed outing. The attacker made an astounding 6 tackles, but his attacking contribution was negligible although he did have a great chance to score early in the first half.
Liverpool might have reached their 13th unbeaten game at Anfield, but there was little doubt that they got lucky in doing so. Asmir Begovic was fantastic on the night and made a brilliant stop off Adam Lallana’s close range effort. He was defeated by substitute Sheyi Ojo’s cross and Liverpool’s maligned Belgian, Christian Benteke joined compatriot Eden Hazard on the score-sheet.
It was an evening to forget for the Reds by and large but this game was important for the preparation of the very important final next week and Liverpool failed to mark a stamp of authority here. The draw also leaves them in the eighth place in the table, which is not something they would be happy with. There is one game against West Brom still left but it is more likely than not that Jurgen Klopp will put a weakened side, to give his key players a rest for the encounter at Basel. A similar side to what showed up against Swansea or Watford would probably be seen.
This team, which also took on Villarreal is the one which is likely to start the final against Sevilla. There might be a few changes, depending on the fitness of Origi and Henderson but it is largely expected to be the same eleven that start Klopp’s second final in-charge of Liverpool. The game against Chelsea was of little consequence in fairness and much should’t be derived from this, but the players must step up significantly for the final, where they face a side ready to grab it’s third successive Europa League trophy.