Liverpool’s statement thrashing of Chelsea reveals true impact of Jurgen Klopp decision

A show of force from Liverpool but, maybe more importantly, intent. If one of the concerns from Jurgen Klopp’s shock announcement has been that his burgeoning title challengers might get distracted or lose focus, they responded by winning 4-1 against Chelsea in a strikingly convincing manner. Mauricio Pochettino angrily disputed some decisions but it’s hard to argue it would have made too much of a difference to the end result.

The long goodbye continues with some of the most devastatingly quick play in Europe, which was certainly too fast for a soft Chelsea team. It is another reason they will miss him, especially since this was yet another indication that an exciting new team really is coming together. This was all personified by 20-year-old Conor Bradley, whose thunderous assertiveness was only complemented by his youthful energy. The Northern Irish international scored a superb breakaway goal for 2-0 and then sent in the most inviting swerving cross for Dominik Szoboszlai to make it 3-0 with a plundering header. You could say he reminds you of a young Gareth Bale, but the Kop were right to sing “there’s only one Conor Bradley”. He looks to be a brilliant talent in his own right, who has so seamlessly slotted into a well-oiled Liverpool side.

It is the kind of developing team that Chelsea can only dream of, but should remind them that there is much more to nurturing a side than just buying potentially promising talent for needlessly pressurising transfer fees. Mauricio Pochettino instead has to preside over a squad that occasionally just looks like a disparate collection of young players, as they undeniably did here. Some of it fits together, such as goalscorer Christopher Nkunku, but a lot of it doesn’t yet look convincing or coherent.

That is bound to happen, since most of his squad are of the sort of age where inconsistency is inevitable. That’s fine if, as with Bradley, they’re coming into a team that functions. It’s a huge issue, however, if those same players bear considerable responsibility for making it function.

You couldn’t say that about Chelsea’s midfield here, as Anfield gleefully booed Moises Caicedo off. He was a Liverpool target only to go to Chelsea for the kind of £100m-plus price that now looks unfair on him. He would probably excel in Klopp’s team now.

Chelsea were instead so easy to play through, in a way that goes against their modern history – not least at this very stadium.

John Terry was in the away end to conspicuously remind people of that. That isn’t Chelsea any more. This isn’t a team yet.

The temptation has been to criticise Pochettino but it sometimes feels his only real mistake was in picking a project that has made some extreme strategic choices. The Argentine isn’t faultless, of course, but the doubts persist that this just isn’t a way to build a team.

Liverpool consequently deconstructed Chelsea with ease.

They were already pummelling Djordje Petrovic’s goal when Diogo Jota just worked his way through the centre of Pochettino’s defence to make it 1-0.

That was it in terms of a game. There was never any doubt. It might even have been worse for Chelsea had Darwin Nunez not missed a penalty in a way, well, that only Darwin Nunez can.

The Uruguayan was often brilliant, especially with the way he bullied the Chelsea defence all over their area. There was similarly a brilliant assist for Luis Diaz to make it 4-1.

Given that he had 11 shots that seemed to go every conceivable area except into the net. Given the perceptive quality of his ball for Diaz, it’s hard not to think he should try imagine every shot is a cross. It was maybe extreme Darwin. One of the biggest questions for whoever comes next is what they’re going to do with him.

It would, at this point, be one of few questions.

This isn’t yet extreme Klopp, which is both the excitement and the sadness about this season now. They already look like they can do so much more this season, which fosters the feeling that surely there is much more for the German to enjoy with this club.

Darwin Nunez celebrates after helping Luis Diaz to make it four

He can only do what is right for himself, but the team he is leaving behind certainly looks like it is going in the right direction.

If they maintain the focus you would associate with Klopp’s best teams, it may really mean a last title challenge and maybe something more.

This superb win suggested that will not be an issue. This after all could have been an awkward game. Sunday’s FA Cup win was the initial emotional outpouring, which could feasibly have left them flat against a Chelsea team whose form has been better. It’s why this was such a setback for Pochettino, in performance more than crushing result. It’s also why it’s so promising for Liverpool in the long term and, somewhat poignantly, Klopp in the short term.

Pochettino will be disappointed with his team’s inability to rise to Liverpool’s level

Related Articles

Bir cavab yazın

Sizin e-poçt ünvanınız dərc edilməyəcəkdir. Gərəkli sahələr * ilə işarələnmişdir

Back to top button