Andrew Beasley, Daniel Rhodes, Chris Rowland and other TTT regulars will give their thoughts for 24 hours after the game, and we’ll have all the post-match stats too.
The end of the hectic December period is always a testing time, and several positive Covid tests have pretty much derailed the Reds’ title challenge since just before Christmas, from key players missing at Spurs (where the neck-and-neck race with Man City first faltered), to different key players – as well as the manager – out at Chelsea. Liverpool’s bench was more like a supermarket turkey aisle on Boxing Day.
The many absentees just happened to coincide with Spurs away, Leicester away and Chelsea away, but never quite enough in number to get games cancelled, as others successfully sought to do. (The one game Liverpool surely wanted to play was Leeds at Anfield, but that did get called off.)
It’s resulted in a midfield you’d not ideally want to see in 2022 – James Milner and Jordan Henderson still in there, alongside Fabinho – but it’s been a season of disrupted midfields, after the season of disrupted defences last season.
Plus, due to Covid (Alisson and Joel Matip) and suspension (Andy Robertson), stand-in boss Pep Lijnders and presumably Jürgen Klopp (by telephone) picked an experienced midfield to cope with a less familiar back four and goalkeeper, with only two of the five first XI regulars. With Covid testing also taking out Roberto Firmino, and Divock Origi and Taki Minamino still absent, the attacking options were limited, too. Yes, Chelsea had their own issues, but they were at home, with a new safe-standing atmosphere.
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