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Chelsea and Liverpool got 2022 off to the most frantic of starts in another contender for Premier League game of the season, as Thomas Tuchel's side fought back from 2-0 down to share the spoils.
In what was the most entertaining first half of the season, Liverpool raced into a two-goal lead, as Sadio Mane pounced on Trevoh Chalobah's mistake before Mohamed Salah left his old side feeling blue with a clever finish past Eduoard Mendy.
Just when it appeared that Chelsea had collapsed, Mateo Kovavic volleyed in a screamer to wake his side up before Christian Pulisic fired Thomas Tuchel's side level just before the break.
The last thing that the neutral wanted was the half-time whistle, and naturally the second half didn't continue with the same intensity, with the game teetering on a knife-edge until the final whistle.
But the game ended as a draw, which was probably the fair result, although it helps neither side with Manchester City running away with it at the top of the Premier League.
With Jurgen Klopp and Alisson absent for Liverpool's trip to Stamford Bridge it was a much better point for the away side, and here is two things that the Reds boss got right, and two things Tuchel got wrong.
Two things Klopp got right…
Exposing the wings
Chelsea were rocked by the injury of Reece James against Brighton last time out, to add to their injury woes in the wing-back position, with Ben Chilwell sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Tuchel was forced to start Spanish pairing Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso in either wing-back position, which played into the hand of Liverpool who continuously pressed the flanks much to Chelsea's horror.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold on one side with Salah and Mane on the other with Kostas Tsimikas on the other, Liverpool played to their strengths and it was both of their wide men that found the back of the net in the first half.
With so much attention having to be centred on the wings, it also allowed Diogo Jota space, and he almost fired a winner as a result as Chelsea were stretched.
Trusting in Milner
One notable change to the Liverpool line-up away from Covid forced omissions, was the introduction of James Milner who replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
With Jordan Henderson and Fabinho guaranteed to start, that one final midfield spot remains an area of uncertainty with Thiago out, but Milner stepped into the role perfectly to use his experience.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is much more of an attacking option, but in a game that was always likely to be so end-to-end, Klopp gambled with Milner's composure, and it paid off in large periods of the game.
For a 35-year-old, it was an admirable show in the middle of the park, and it was only when the game had relaxed did Oxlade-Chamberlain take over.
Two things Tuchel got wrong…
Leaving out Lukaku
It was a major decision by Tuchel to leave out Lukaku who has landed himself in hot water following his recent interview, and the Belgian was a huge miss.
The game was frantic and it looked like a goal could be scored on every attack, but Lukaku's presence may have changed the whole complexion of the game.
In a game where control was rare, it's an area of Lukaku's style that he excels in with his hold-up play, and it may have been enough for Chelsea to claim all three points if he was leading the line.
Of course, authority and discipline sometimes overrides everything, and Tuchel may have felt that his hand was forced, but Lukaku was a huge miss and the Belgian has certainly let his side down.
Allowing Alexander-Arnold time
Alexander-Arnold has become one of the finest play-makers in Europe, making it ludicrous to believe that he is still a right-back, and with a wand of a right-foot the last thing any opposition can afford to do is give him time.
But that's exactly what Chelsea did, and they didn't contain him in the way that they needed too, and he found a wonderful assist once more.
Salah's finish may have been excellent, but the ball to find him from Alexander-Arnold was sublime and it caught everybody off guard.
Alexander-Arnold continues to impress with his fine array of passes, and Sunday's match was no different as he opened Chelsea up for Liverpool's second.
- Chelsea FC
- Liverpool FC
- Thomas Tuchel
- Jurgen Klopp
- Premier League
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