A second half blitz by Christian Pulisic was not enough as Chelsea slumped to a 5-3 defeat to Liverpool on Wednesday.
Chelsea missed an excellent opportunity to seal their qualification for the UEFA Champions League next season, tasting a disappointing 5-3 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.
The Blues were 3-0 down inside the 43rd minute through goals from Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum as their defence completely crumbled against quality opposition. Yet, their manager Frank Lampard stuck true to his guns, preferring an offensive approach that paid off when Olivier Giroud pulled one back, just before half-time.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 22, 2020
Chelsea’s lead didn’t last long, however, as Liverpool restored their three-goal cushion ten minutes after half-time through Roberto Firmino. But, the Londoners still had some tricks up their sleeves as substitute Christian Pulisic’s quick cameo saw them pull two back in quick succession.
The away side then started to push Liverpool back, chasing the equaliser. Unfortunately, a sheer determination to find the fourth goal left them exposed at the back and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain made full use of it, scoring a rare goal in the 84th minute to effectively kill the game.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Chelsea players following their disappointing but courageous display against Liverpool on Wednesday evening.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 4/10
Kepa was basically powerless to stop any of the five goals scored by Liverpool on the night. There will be question marks raised over his positioning for the free-kick scored Alexander-Arnold but aside from that, he couldn’t have done anything to save Chelsea’s blushes. Yet another frustrating outing for the Spaniard.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 3/10
Azpilicueta made a couple of good recoveries in the first half and looked solid at the back. But, he lost his authority as soon as Liverpool started to pour in goals. Still somehow emerged as the pick of the Chelsea centre-backs on Wednesday evening.
Antonio Rudiger: 2/10
Rudiger was a complete disaster on the night. The German international lacked positioning and tried to get in front of the Liverpool defenders, but to no avail. He was really given a tough time by Mohamed Salah, whose quick turns and link-up play was too much for the ex-Stuttgart defender. Rudiger was also caught napping late in the game when Virgil van Dijk found himself unmarked.
Kurt Zouma: 3/10
While Rudiger was struggling to impose his presence on the pitch, Zouma did not make things better either. On the contrary, the Frenchman was often caught out of position and simply lacked the discipline necessary to contain this Liverpool attack. Not the best of performances from the Chelsea centre-back.
Reece James: 5/10
James had a mixed game against Liverpool. The youngster looked solid defensively during the early stages of the game, making a few good tackles. But, he was completely overwhelmed at times by Sadio Mane, although he did make up for his defensive shortcomings with a couple of excellent balls from the wider areas of the pitch.
Starting in place of the injured duo of N’Golo Kante and Billy Gilmour, Jorginho wasn’t able to help Chelsea dominate the middle third of the pitch. Tactically, he played a key role in Frank Lampard’s pendulating back-line that saw him drop deep and act as an auxiliary centre-back during offensive phases. But, the Chelsea vice-captain failed to provide the assurance that was needed in midfield.
Marcos Alonso: 6/10
Alonso was culpable for conceding a golden opportunity to Salah in the second half when he was dispossessed in the middle of the park. But aside from that, the Spaniard was a constant outlet for Chelsea going forward. He linked up well with his teammates, notably providing the flick that led to Giroud’s goal.
A disappointing performance from Willian, who never really got going. The Brazilian lacked intensity and inspiration from his game, notably making multiple poor touches, including the one that led to a turnover, allowing Keita to score the all-important opener.
Olivier Giroud: 5/10
Giroud scored a late first half goal that gave Chelsea some hope just before half-time. But aside from that moment, the Frenchman broadly lacked services and was barely involved in the game.
Mason Mount: 4/10
Mount had a slow start to the game, failing to make any good impression. Although he did drop deep when necessary, he wasn’t sharp enough to trouble the Liverpool defence before eventually making way for Christian Pulisic around the hour mark.
Tammy Abraham: 7/10
Replaced Giroud around the hour mark and instantly provided much more energy and work rate in that number nine role. Also showed his poaching skills by netting the second goal from Pulisic’s pass, giving Chelsea a massive boost in the second half.
Christian Pulisic: 9/10
Pulisic was by far the most influential player for Chelsea on Wednesday. His remarkable run, just after coming on, saw him dribble past four Liverpool players to provide an excellent cross that led to the goal by Abraham. Pulisic then got on to the scoresheet himself in the 73rd minute with a brilliant finish, giving Liverpool defenders a real scare.
Christian Pulisic’s game by numbers vs. Liverpool (37 minutes):
100% pass accuracy
3 successful take-ons
3 shots (1 on target)
3 ball recoveries
1 big chance created
An excellent individual performance. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/TnUrtCuraP
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) July 22, 2020
Although the Reds did manage to isolate him during the final stage of the game, the US international was still able to wriggle his way through and make life difficult for Jurgen Klopp’s men. Growing in stature.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 6/10
Callum Hudson-Odoi took full advantage of a defensive mishap from Liverpool, feeding Pulisic for the third goal of the evening for Chelsea. Wasn’t as effective as his fellow subs, though.
Emerson Palmieri: N/A
Replaced a tiring Alonso late in the game as Lampard conceded the defeat. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.