Liverpool beat Chelsea 5-3 on Wednesday in a fantastic end-to-end game. The Blues tried to stop two Reds who eventually tore them apart.
Change of system
Just as we thought, Chelsea went into this one with a 3-4-3 system. They used it to success against Manchester United at the weekend but Liverpool, of course, are different opposition.
And like we said in that piece, it wasn’t going to work against Liverpool. Chelsea lined up with a flat midfield and, effectively, three players down each flank.
Cesar Azpilicueta, usually a right-back, played on the right of their back three. Reece James played as a right-wingback, while Willian played as an inside-forward on the same side. Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso and Mason Mount repeated the trick on the opposite flank.
So Chelsea effectively gave up their midfield, playing two against Liverpool’s three. They played flat, too, with space in between their defence and midfield. That’s usually space that Roberto Firmino thrives in – and he arguably did here, creating one chance and scoring himself.
But they did so seemingly to protect their flanks from Liverpool’s ultimate creative threat – their full-backs. The problem, then, is that even three players on each wing couldn’t stop Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The wide game
The wings were supposed to be congested and difficult to play from. There were five players on each, after all, three from Chelsea and two from Liverpool. No space for the full-backs to play.
Yet, the two Liverpool players with the most touches were Robertson (95) and Alexander-Arnold (85). Despite the congestion, the Reds kept finding their creative outlets.
And they are remarkably creative. The duo each broke the record for assists from defenders last year, with Robertson registering 11 and then Alexander-Arnold getting 12.
The 5-3 win over Chelsea saw the Liverpool pairing break their own record. Robertson set up the fifth to match last year’s total of 11 for the season.
Alexander-Arnold, though, broke his own record by setting up Firmino’s goal. The Scouser now has 13 assists for the season, bettered only by Kevin De Bruyne (19).
And those goals were just the chances players finished v Chelsea. The two of them created more. Alexander-Arnold made three key passes – the most in the game – while Robertson was just one behind with two.
A gameplan undone
Chelsea didn’t really stand much of a chance once Liverpool’s fullback pairing got going. It goes to show just how brilliant they are and how difficult it is to stop them at their best.
They’re an incredible and unique weapon in the Liverpool arsenal and one that should continue to guarantee success.