Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool: 3 Talking Points & Tactical Analysis | FA Cup 2019-20
- Analysing the various talking points from the high-voltage FA Cup fixture between Chelsea and Liverpool.
Chelsea comfortably beat Liverpool by 2-0 to progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, courtesy of goals from Willian and Ross Barkley in either half.
The Blues, on a starry evening at Stamford Bridge, finally reinvoked why their home is widely known as a fortress. They started the game at frenetic pace, scoring through Willian before the Reds could settle into the equation.
Liverpool probed with patience, hogged almost 70% of possession after the first goal but couldn't prevent regular Chelsea attacks. Frank Lampard's side, safe to say, outplayed their opponents through quicker build-up play, incisive passing and impeccable work rate.
It should really have been more, as a few chances went begging in the first half, while both Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud struck the cross bar, much to their frustration.
On that note, we break down the three major talking points from Chelsea's telling victory over Liverpool.
#1 Chelsea win midfield battle early on as Willian scores
It was widely envisaged to be a crunch contest given the pace at which both sides transition from one end to the other.
However, it was the home side that piled pressure on Liverpool after a whirlwind start. They dominated the first 15 minutes of so, amassing no lesser than six efforts on goal with three of those on target.
More so, the likes of Pedro and Barkley were freed up a lot of space time and time again. The former's decision-making seriously let him and Chelsea down, as he slowed the pace of the game and failed to pick between launching and passing amid fierce backpedaling from the opposition.
Azpilicueta should have buried a header that he only managed to nick. Pedro was guilty of squandering quite a few chances where the final ball should have been better, while Ross Barkley on one occasion, decided to take it upon himself when there were two blue shirts, totally free, ahead of him.
Chelsea did draw first blood, but mainly courtesy of Adrian's howler that he fluffed off a straight Willian shot.
Chelsea won these many chances due to their midfield's supremacy. Young Billy Gilmour adapted to the big stage like a duck to water, filling in the voids at the centre of the park, forming triangular structures with the ones behind him in order to facilitate passing and weaving his way through the Liverpool press.
His recovery tackle in the 47th minute of the first half added time against Mane when the Senegalese had set off inside the Chelsea box, was simply world-class.
Barkley was further up the field, while Kovacic engineered a tactical masterclass of opening up gaps alongside Gilmour. On the overall, Chelsea worked way harder, and smarter than Liverpool. And it deservedly paid off with the opener.
#2 Kepa displays steel after major test of character
When asked about Kepa prior to the match, Frank Lampard said,
"Yes. Every player here is in control of their destiny in terms of how they play and how they train. He's been professional. He's trained well and he's kept his head down, supported the team."
After a six-game exile, Kepa returned to the starting XI after having treated the hard way. Lampard delivered the sucker punch, crying for a response from the world's most expensive goalkeeper. And he delivered.
Kepa was back, spreading his arms, pleading the defenders to create space for the shorter passes. He was always going to be under pressure coming into this game, but credit must go to Lampard for taking the bold call, to which the shot-stopper responded aptly.
Kepa made one simple stop, before completing a jaw-dropping triple save before the 20th minute mark when an erratic Chelsea defence saw themselves as victim to pin-ball inside the box where chance after chance fell to Liverpool inside the space of those five-six seconds.
Moments later, he was there again to parry away a fierce Mane effort from the left-hand side of the box. He came out of his line many a time, most notably during a free kick from the inside right.
He defied expectations through that bit of authoritative, commanding work in front of goal that was perhaps missing from his game of late. And that pretty much summed up his commanding display.
#3 Liverpool were as static as it gets, repeatedly
It was fairly simple football from Chelsea, at least on the eye. But Liverpool's defence cracked open several times in the course of the 90 minutes, so much that one could claim they haven't been carved this way throughout the season.
As aforementioned, they were run over by Chelsea's midfield that was setup for quick pressing and subsequent counters. However, the degree of exposure they went through, especially with the Barkley goal where he ran across half the pitch to score, remains highly questionable.
It was a case of static defending, as noticed with the Chelsea counters that came through time and time again. The Reds hardly reacted, neither did they opt to brush aside the rest of the onrushing Chelsea players.
The defensive line as well, was highly stationed at a rigid platform, with little communication or thinking.
It's been a peculiar case of late, even in the way Ismaila Sarr completely split the Liverpool defence for his second goal over the weekend. There's hardly anything to worry for the Premier League's champions-elect, but Klopp certainly has to think about his back line's recent displays while shielding off the ball.Published 04 Mar 2020, 03:18 IST