Liverpool drew 0-0 with Chelsea at Anfield on Saturday afternoon and the point left the Reds in eighth place in the Premier League.
Kai Havertz’s disallowed goal in the first half was almost as stuffy as the situation in front of goal, and neither side deserved three points.
In truth, neither side could take much from a game that lacked real quality from the outset.
However, here we analyze three pluses and three minuses from the Reds’ point of view.
POSITIVE – 2 clean sheets per rebound
Considering this is a Liverpool side that conceded eight goals in three league games against Brentford, Wolves and Brighton earlier this month, you have to take heart in the fact that they managed to hold off Wolves and Chelsea in the last two games.
At the press conference after the match, Jurgen Klopp answered a question on this topic with a big smile.
“Terrific,” he said when asked about the importance of two consecutive dry runs.
“Immediately after the game you can’t forget the moments they had and tomorrow I won’t remember them anymore. It’s just a blank slate and it’s really good.”
After the defeat at Brighton, the Liverpool boss emphasized that his team had become more compact and reliable in defence.
In that regard, perhaps it was another step in the right direction. Now the task is to ensure the preservation of strength.
NEGATIVE – Time to worry about Salah?
Isn’t it time to start questioning the contribution of the one who last summer became the highest paid player in the club’s history? It could, of course, be argued that Liverpool now need more Mohamed Salah.
Even out of form, Salah is better than most attacking players, but he’s way out of shape at the moment.
Don’t think he’s been the same since the AFCON last January, whether it’s his decision-making, finishing or overall impact.
They don’t help me with bad service, but it still deserves criticism.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) January 22, 2023
The Egyptian has scored twice since the Reds’ relaunch of the season in December, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain becoming the only Liverpool player to score in any of their last four league games.
Salah never looked a threat against here of Chelsea a defense that has struggled in recent weeks. He has now gone three consecutive games without a goal. The last time this happened was in April 2022.
At a time when the Reds are clearly struggling all over the pitch, they need more from their talisman.
POSITIVE – The first of many games for Baysetic
After an outstanding performance against Wolverhampton in midweek, it was good to see Klopp deliver Stefan Baycetich another opportunity in central midfield against Chelsea.
Of course, it was not the easiest and most beautiful match, but the Spaniard did not harm himself.
As toothless as Liverpool were, I thought Bajcetic did well again – especially playing in yellow for a large part of the game. One clean sheet after another and the midfield doesn’t open up that often with an 18 year old in DM.
— Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie) January 21, 2023
The boss spoke enthusiastically of Baisetic before and after the game, perhaps a sign that he will be in line for further starts in the league in the coming weeks.
In truth, the midfield didn’t produce much, but it has to be said that they looked more cohesive than the trio of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago in recent weeks.
And despite the fact that Liverpool now have a few days to prepare for the FA Cup tie at Brighton, not many fans are pushing for Fabinho to return to the team ahead of Baysetic.
NEGATIVE – disturbing lack of ideas
You have to admit it’s sad to see how off the pace this is Liverpool team is right now given the position they were in less than 12 months ago.
As long as the 0-0 draw lasted, it was as boring as could be and the Reds more than played their part in a game that was played at a very low level.
After Harvey Elliott’s impressive performance on the right flank of Liverpool’s attack against Wolverhampton, you have to wonder why Klopp chose his left flank in this match. The solution would certainly be to use Elliott on the right, Cody Gakpo on the opposite side and Salah in the middle.
Watching Liverpool just put the ball into the box feels so wrong.
— Leanne Prescott (@_lfcleanne) January 21, 2023
After the game, Klopp insisted this performance was a “small step” in the right direction. In any case, it shows how far this team has fallen given the fact that they were at home compared to the team currently sitting 10th in the table.
POSITIVE – Nunes is back
Had he been fully fit, there’s no doubt Darwin Nunes would have started this game, given how little Liverpool’s attack currently offers.
A diamond in the rough, yes, but Uruguayan is certainly progressing and he did so again in his 30-minute cameo from the bench at Anfield on Saturday.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elliott and Fabio Carvalho have been asked to fill in at the striker in Nunes’ absence, but Klopp is no doubt now hoping to give the attacking trio of Salah, Gakpo and Nunes a longer spell of games.
NEGATIVE – No Gakpo goal yet
Liverpool’s January signing certainly arrived at the club at the wrong time and you’d think he would benefit immensely from his first goal for the club.
Lined up again in the relatively unfamiliar role of number 9, Gakpo took two chances in the first half and tested Kepa Arrizabalaga after linking up with Nunes in the second half.
Klopp will be hoping for Dutchman have benefited from Nunes’ return to fitness and perhaps next week at Brighton he will return to his more comfortable attacking role on the left flank.