Tarak Malhotra Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
On the 3rd of March, Liverpool traveled to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in the round of the English FA Cup. Goals from Chelsea strikers Willian and Barkley proved to be the Reds’ downfall.
Liverpool have entered a slump in their form, having lost 1-0 to Atletico Madrid on the 19th of February and 3-0 to Watford in the Premier League on the 29th of February. With the league being all but won, any hopes of a treble have been lost, and it seems Liverpool have a mountain to climb when they face Atletico in the second leg of their Champions League draw.
Jurgen Klopp played a questionable lineup for the Chelsea game, selecting academy product Neko Williams over Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back and moving traditional left-wing Mane to the right wing. He also chose to play recently signed forward Takumi Minamino over prolific striker Firmino, and play traditional striker Divock Origi on the left-wing. This could be due to Klopp’s indifference towards domestic cups, as the past has shown that he sees domestic cups as a chance for academy products to play.
The most detrimental of these choices, however, proved to be Klopp’s choice to play backup goalie Adrian over Liverpool’s star goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Chelsea’s first goal came in the 13th minute after Adrian made a save and the ball found its way to Liverpool defender Joe Gomez. Joe Gomez played a fairly simple pass to Fabinho.
After a poor touch and a loose pass from Fabinho, his pass went as far as Chelsea winger Willian, who shot it straight at Adrian. What looked like a routine save turned into a nightmare moment for Adrian, who’s effort to parry the ball went off his hands and into the back of the net.
Liverpool, however, kept pushing for an equaliser late into the first half. After Chelsea’s goalkeeper Kepa made a triple save denying young academy star Curtis Jones twice and Sadio Mane, it became clear that Liverpool would have to push extremely hard to advance in the competition.
After a dagger from Ross Barkley an hour into the game, Liverpool’s exit from the FA Cup seemed inevitable. The game ended 2-0 to Chelsea, and the Reds were out.
Klopp has since been criticised for his choices in the starting lineup. Supporters argue that resting big players is useless, since the league is pretty much already won. Many also argue that this Liverpool team is too good to only win a single trophy.