Premier League title race: How Liverpool avoided 2014-style slip-up against Chelsea – BBC Sport

Premier League title race: How Liverpool avoided 2014-style slip-up against Chelsea - BBC Sport

Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea: Premier League – as it happened

When Andy Robertson slipped on the Anfield turf late in the second half of Liverpools victory over Chelsea on Sunday, there was a brief silence as the ghost of 2014 reared its head.

Liverpool might have been leading 2-0 at the time, but after constant reminders of the same fixture five years ago when Steven Gerrards fall gifted Chelsea their opening goal on the way to a victory that undid the Reds title challenge, it was clear some of the scars remained.

So when Liverpool finally recovered the ball and danger was averted, it was no surprise that a cheer rang around the stadium. Jurgen Klopp even smiled on the touchline.

Cole would depart for Roma at the end of Salahs first year at Stamford Bridge where the forward struggled to nail down a first-team place before being loaned out to Fiorentina in 2015. 

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Everyone knew the significance of the moment. After watching Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah score within the space of two minutes to earn a 2-0 lead, it was final confirmation that this time, it would be different.

He didnt stop there as the 26-year-old went on to break records in his debut season at Anfield, winning the Premier Leagues Golden Boot and Player of the Season accolades.

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Liverpool passed the test that wracked the nerves of so many fans beforehand. Klopp said on Friday that the game in 2014, which helped Manchester City to the title, had no bearing on his team this time around. And he was right.

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From their tactics, to their personnel and an unwillingness not to be distracted by outside forces, Liverpool banished the memory of the slip forever, according to the German.

While his impact in England has been massive, Cole insisted that he didnt see it coming judging on what he saw when he trained with the Egyptian at Cobham. 

“We can finally close the slipping book,” Klopp said. “Robertson slipped and nothing happened, so its not a Liverpool thing. Done.”

Ashley Cole has admitted that he didnt think Mohamed Salah would reach the heights he has having played with the Egyptian at Chelsea in 2014.

In one of the tightest title races in years, it was another sign that Klopps side might have enough going for them to win a first league championship in 29 years.

With Eden Hazard breaking forward after a period of Liverpool pressing in the Chelsea half, Fabinho tracked his man back and made a robust, lunging tackle to nick the ball of the Belgian.

Jürgen Klopp blown away by Mohamed Salahs thunderbolt against Chelsea

There are many ways in which this Liverpool team is different to the 2014 one, not least in terms of experience, but the approach of fans and the club has changed too.

With Chelsea likely to play on the break as we look to impose ourselves on this one, well need the Brazilian to make more of these crucial tackles.

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By the time of the match in 2014, which was later on in the season, Liverpool had won 11 successive league games, and looked to be closing in on the title.

The fans could sense it and they let it show. For home games, they surrounded the team bus down the Anfield Road approach to the stadium, lending matches a carnival-like atmosphere.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Virgil van Dijk shouts at his teammates after Chelseas Eden Hazard misses a chance. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters Liverpools best chance of the first half fell to Salah in their first attack. Mané, who unnerved Azpilicueta from the opening whistle, delivered a deep cross into the six-yard box. Unmarked, Salah shinned his volley straight at Kepa Arrizabalaga. Mané turned another good opportunity wide when Salah returned the favour but overall it was a flat opening reminiscent of that game from five years ago. A jaw-dropping start to the second half by Liverpool ensured there would be no repeat.

Being in the hunt for this years Premier League appears more normal. Of course the club are desperate to end their long wait, but with Manchester City two points behind with a game in hand, there are no premature celebrations.

1:42 Jürgen Klopp: Salah strike against Chelsea blew me away – video A collective gasp was then heard around Anfield when Salah sealed a most precious victory with a shot of exquisite beauty. He was lurking in a similar position to the opening goal when he took a cross-field pass from Van Dijk with a polished first touch. This time he stepped across Emerson and, before the Chelsea defence could react, unleashed an angled drive that flew straight and true into the top corner of Arrizabalagas goal. It was an unforgettable moment that left Klopp looking on in joyous disbelief and over 50,000 others following suit.

Even at the end of Sundays game, the Kop sang about Liverpool being top of the league, not winning it.

The following 45 minutes were tense and far removed from the monumental occasion it would become. Liverpool started on the front foot but without the aggression and composure on the ball that so often makes their control count. Sarris side, with Hazard operating as a false nine, worked their way into promising situations on the counterattack without troubling Alisson in the Liverpool goal. Their first-half display was encapsulated by Willian breaking from a David Luiz clearance, cutting inside Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson, then slicing well wide from 18 yards.

Back in 2014, the carnival atmosphere proved a misjudgement, aggravating then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who brought his usual gift for tactical controversy to the encounter.

Liverpool were rampant at this stage, Firmino flashing another shot from distance just wide, yet Chelsea could have levelled with two glorious Hazard chances in as many minutes. He had only Alisson to beat when Christensens long ball caught out the Liverpool defence. He beat the Liverpool goalkeeper but his low shot smacked against the post. Seconds later, from Willians inviting delivery, his free shot was spilled by Alisson and Van Dijk hooked clear before Hazard could capitalise on the rebound.

He described the pre-match party a “circus” and complained his team had been cast as “clowns”. Reds boss Brendan Rodgers said their opponents had “parked two buses” that day and admitted his team could not cope.

Klopps side now, like Rodgers then, are arguably the best attacking team in the league, but they are more tactically flexible and also know when to bide their time rather than getting frustrated if they cannot score early.

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Liverpool have scored a league-high 21 goals in the final 15 minutes of games this season, but they did not need to wait that long as Mane and Salah struck in the space of two minutes shortly after the break.

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Not for the first time this season, Liverpool also responded to a City win by holding their nerve to produce three points of their own.

Ex-Arsenal striker Wright and former Liverpool winger McManaman both responded to Salahs thunderbolt by opening their mouths wide in astonishment and cheering.

Liverpool may have been helped by coming up against a Maurizio Sarri side more focused on their own style than disrupting the opposition but, mentally, Klopps team look stronger than their predecessors.

Liverpool star Mo Salah scored a stunning goal in Sundays 2-0 win over Chelsea and it sparked wild reactions from fans and pundits alike… but not Shay Given.

Critics often point out that Klopp has yet to win anything with Liverpool despite a hefty budget but the German has been here before.

The footage of the pundits reactions went viral on Twitter, with many fans very amused by Givens dedication to food and apparent apathy towards the game.

With Borussia Dortmund, he twice held off German giants Bayern Munich to win successive Bundesliga titles,

Jonathan Walters, who played with Given for Stoke and Ireland, posted the video alongside the words: Getting that last meal in before summer training.

Hudson-Odoi starts for Chelsea against Liverpool as Hazard plays false nine

Klopp said after the game: “What we want to do is collect as many points as possible. Thats 85 points now, so with four games to play that means [we can get] 97.

Given, meanwhile, was preoccupied by his mid-match meal and barely even looked up from his plate to acknowledge that a goal had been scored.

“Lets try that and if thats enough, perfect. If its not, we cannot change it. We didnt lose it here or there. Very smart people say if youd beaten Leicester youd be champions and stuff like this.

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Klopps side are now one point short of the title-winning total City reached in 2014 with four games remaining.

Whether that offers any genuine solace if they finish second remains to be seen, but Klopp was at pains to suggest it will.

“We expect Manchester City to win all their games so we just need to get as many points as possible and if were champions then great but if not it is still a really good football team.”

Liverpool blinked first, and how. The story of their collapse at home to Chelsea has been well-documented but it would have meant nothing had Manchester City not beaten Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park later that same day. “I talked with the players before the game not to be thinking about the result of Chelsea and Liverpool,” said Pellegrini, who hailed a “professional” 2-0 victory.

An awesome goal from Mo Salah ensured an ultimately comfortable victory for Liverpool, who blew Chelsea away at the start of the second half

Liverpools Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their second goal. Photograph: Matt West/BPI/REX/Shutterstock Rob Smyth

It was, in the understated words of Manuel Pellegrini, a “happy day”. There was nothing unusual about the 2013/14 Premier League season in that it was played out over the course of 38 games in ten months, but an extraordinary sting in the tail saw the destination of the title more or less decided in the space of four unassuming hours in the April sunshine.

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Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea Our Anfield match report has landed, so Ill leave you with that. Thanks for your company and emails. See you soon for the next instalment in this immense title race.

Fate dictated that those same fixtures be played five years later in similar circumstances. Liverpool entered this weekend top of the table, with third-placed Chelsea visiting Anfield. City, in second, travelled to Palace hoping, with their game played first instead, that they could apply some unwelcome pressure.

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What did the manager say at half-time? I cant tell you that! I thought there was a period when we blew them away a bit, but then they had a couple of good chances. Overall its a good performance because Chelsea are a good side. Ive moved a little bit further forward in the last few weeks, which Ive enjoyed. Its really big for us to be in the title race. Weve got a few big games coming up, and were enjoying it.

Salah has 19 league goals, 22 in total, but had been on a barren run by his standards of one goal in 10 games before sealing victory against his former club. Klopp said of the drought: The answer in football is always work rate and the work rate of all three up front was outstanding. Chelsea is a top team. We treat these games like Champions League games, nothing else, and you cannot defend a team like this without offensive wingers. Everybody uses it. Each top team takes that risk. How the boys worked today was unbelievable. And they got the reward for that. You can get an easy goal from a yard or a shot from 25 yards, a thunderbolt. Outstanding.

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What happened five years ago didnt matter today. It was a totally different game, totally different circumstances, and we are very happy with the three points. We managed to put Chelsea under pressure and they didnt play their usual game at times, so all credit to us. We just focus on our games, not City. Well see, well see.

Read more It blew me away, the Liverpool manager said. I didnt think anything in that moment but I know I was really happy because I was in line with the ball and maybe I saw first that it would go in. It was a really outstanding finish and I dont want to minimise that but I loved the first goal, too. I was immediately reminded of the 4-3 against Borussia Dortmund. Hendo instead of Milly and Sadio instead of Dejan, but good team play, good cross, good header. The performance was really good but you need the goals, and we got them.

Liverpools remaining games are Cardiff (A), Huddersfield (H), Newcastle (A) and Wolves (H). They should win all four; if they do, Manchester City will have no margin for error. There has never been such a relentless title race in English football.

Read more The biggest challenge for us is always facing the world outside. We play our game. If City lose today, and we find out five minutes before the game, somebody tells us City lost! then that is not a help. You lose your focus then. We only try to collect as many points as possible. What is it now, 85? Four games to play: 97. Lets try. And if thats enough, then perfect. If not, we cannot change it. And we didnt lose it here or there or whatever.

Liverpool go back to the top of the table and get another tricky fixture out of the way. They blew Chelsea away at the start of the second half, when Sadio Mane and Mo Salah scored in the space of three minutes. Salahs howitzer went into Anfield folklore even before it hit the net.

Chelsea did plenty of good things, but they picked the wrong team and then Eden Hazard missed two excellent chances to make it 2-1 and give Anfield the heebie-jeebies. Its a big blow to their hopes of finishing in the top four.

Salah struck an astounding goal 142 seconds after Sadio Mané opened the scoring at Anfield as Liverpool retook a two-point lead over Manchester City with victory against Maurizio Sarris side. Klopp was thrilled by what he described as a complete team performance and the buildup to Manés 13th goal in 16 games but it was Salahs emphatic finish past Kepa Arrizabalaga that left him momentarily speechless.

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Juergen Klopp celebrates after Liverpools 2-0 victory. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters Updated at 6.27pm BST

Very smart people will come out and say: Yeah, if you would have won against Leicester you would be champions. Its all bullshit. People and idiots bring something like this up. By the way, on this point, we can finally close the slipping book. Robbo slipped and nothing happened, so its not a Liverpool thing. Done.

89 min An electric bit of play from Mane, who roars past Christensen and smacks a rising shot that is pawed behind by Kepa. Before the corner is taken, Xherdan Shaqiri comes on to replace Mo Salah, whose memorable heatseeker ensured victory for Liverpool.

After his team-mate Sadio Mane had just opened the scoring, Salah thunderbolted in a left-footed effort from outside the box – leaving Kepa with no chance whatsoever.

87 min Kepa comes out of his area to meet an up and under from van Dijk, makes a Horlicks of his attempted clearance under pressure from Mane, and is a bit fortunate to see the ball drift behind for a goalkick.

86 min Chelseas race is run. They have played better today than during those pitiful defeats at Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester City, but they couldnt cope when Liverpool increased the tempo for 10 minutes at the start of the second half. That has been the difference.

Anfield went completely berserk, as did our no.11, who is now on 19 goals for the season in the Premier League.

Mohamed Salahs stunning Liverpool goal sends Ian Wright into raptures

Yes, Jamie Carragher made the same comparison on Sky. I suppose Salahs was a more spectacular finish, because of the way it rose into the top corner, but I prefer Fowlers goal overall because of the skill that preceded it.

81 min All this talk of Liverpool fans being somehow different, says Niall Mullen, is not really dampening my sense of Liverpool exceptionalism.

80 min A stinging shot on the turn by Firmino is well held by the diving Kepa. Chelsea scraper down the other end, where Hazards ball into the six-yard area is kicked behind by Alexander-Arnold.

76 min A substitution apiece. Ross Barkley replaces the disappointing Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and James Milner comes on for the excellent Jordan Henderson.

74 min Liverpool are playing on the counter-attack now, which makes sense in the circumstances. Salah leads a four-on-three break and finds Henderson, whose cross from the byline is over the head of Mane at the far post.

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71 min Alexander-Arnold, still on the left after taking a corner, Cruyff turns sweetly past Higuain before driving a low shot straight at Kepa. I have no idea what position hell end up in, because he has such ability. Hes almost too good to be a full-back, even in a post-Pep world.

70 min Matt Dony not really on the point I think – United, Chelsea fans etc during their better years were nowhere near the righteous levels of Liverpool fans in their barren years, says Andrew Hurley. This feeling of being superior fans is unsettling, as it implies something not right to need to want to be seen by others in such a light. The question is though – why does it bother everyone else!?! 🙂

68 min Liverpool have started to calm the game down after that madcap 10 minutes, when they were almost too emotional to function.

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67 min David Dein, with the sentiments I expected in answer to Andrew Hurleys question, says Matt Dony. Its a line of reasoning Ive heard a lot recently. I can only assume that no one remembers meeting a United fan during the peak Fergie years. Insufferable barely scratches the surface. And, yes, I freely admit I will be a tiny, tiny bit smug if Liverpool win the league. But, no more so than, say, Chelsea fans who suddenly appeared during Joses first stint. Anyway, its all moot. Liverpool winning today will just make the final day, when City confirm the title, even more sickening.

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64 min In answer to David Dein, just this, begins Hubert OHearn. Piers Morgan. Now, you were saying something about insufferable fans?

63 min Its all Chelsea at the moment. What a strange game. If Chelsea get one, it will be squeaky-bum time in excelsis.

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62 min If Liverpool do win the league opposition fans are convinced that we are going to be a nightmare, says Niall Mullen. I will be a nightmare. Im gonna come around all your houses, steal your shoes and make you sit an exam for which youre completely unprepared.

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61 min After a cagey first half, this is turning into a slugfest. Azpilicueta breaks into the area and slides a ball right across the six-yard box. It was begging to be finished.

60 min: Another great chance for Hazard! Willian had loads of space on the right and curled a superb ball into the middle. Hazard got behind the defence and dragged a first-time shot that was smartly saved by the diving Alisson. He didnt quite get hold of it, though it was a difficult ball to take first time because it bounced just in front of him.

Hazard shoots, buts its saved by Alisson. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters Updated at 5.54pm BST

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59 min: Hazard hits the post! A Chelsea corner was cleared to the halfway line, where Emerson drove a speculative ball back over the top. Hazard, who was just onside, took the ball down beautifully on the run and slipped it through the outrushing Alissons legs – but it bounced off the face of the near post.

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59 min As a Gooner I can tell you why so many, myself included, do not want Liverpool to win the league, says David Dein. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the clubs achievements, they were absolutely fantastic throughout the 70s and 80s. An absolute joy to watch. Their fanbase, however, are insufferable. The idea of millions of gloating Scousers with zero sense of perspective does not bear thinking about. Come on Chelsea!

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