Gameweek 37 of the Premier League saw the clash of two Giants at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. With the home team still fighting strong for a top four finish, this indeed was an important game.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause from the crowd and the players as sadly, for the second home game running, it was time to mark the recent passing of another Chelsea legend and former captain. Against West Ham it had been Ray Wilkins, today it was Roy Bentley.
The objective was simple for the Chelsea Manager Conte – 3 points in the bag. Liverpool on the other hand were here after a tense game in the Italian capital which saw them reach the Champions League final for the eighth time.
Conte’s decision to start with Bakayoko in place of Willian was met with high criticism from the fans. Going with a 3-5-2 formation to control the high paced front three of Mane-Salah-Firminho, Chelsea’s 3 man defense had a huge task at hands.
Liverpool Captain Jordan Henderson was rested for this game which saw the English right back Nathaniel Clyne start only for the second time this season.
The first 20 minutes of the match showed why Liverpool were travelling to Kiev as Sadio Mane and Firminho tested Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Chelsea found it hard to keep possession but were the first ones to break the ice, through a counter attack break, as Victor Moses the right wing back, provided a beautiful ball to the in form Olivier Giroud, who became Premier League’s highest scorer using the head. Chelsea looked fantastic after the first goal with the highlight of the match coming from the much criticized Timeoue Bakayoko. Alongside N’golo Kante, he made great interceptions in the midfield, also charging up at times giving Chelsea the extra man in the box.
The deadly duo of Firminho and Salah were nowhere to be seen as the Red’s failed to get a single shot on target in the second half. Their only good chance came in the 90+2 minute when Dominic Solanke, a former Chelsea player, sent a header above the goal post.
With Chelsea winning 1-0, not only have the tables turned, but have also put Liverpool’s Top 4 position in danger.
Conte will look forward to winning his last two games and hope that Brighton or Leicester come up with an upset against the UCL finalists and Spurs respectively.
Klopp on the other hand will be happy to know that his players will have a two week rest before the Champions League final against Real Madrid who played out a draw at Camp Nou in the El Clasico.
That’s it from Stamford Bridge today.
Article written by Yashodhan Nakhare