Chelsea made an incredibly shaky start to the match, and could’ve been behind after just a couple minutes.
But things got better form there, and the Blues threatened repeatedly at the other end, forcing Adrian into a string of good saves.
And then, as it so often happens, Adrian didn’t make the easy save, deflecting Willian’s powerful drive into the net. Chelsea threatened to add a quick second, but the final passes were not good enough. At the other end, Kepa kept the scoreline at 1-0 with a tremendous series of three saves.
Liverpool finished the half in the ascendancy, but as much as Chelsea defense were bending, they did not break. Good work from young Billy Gilmour particularly in midfield, playing a more energetic Jorginho role.
After a fairly frantic first-half, it was a more controlled start to the second, with neither side threatening much, at least at first. Chelsea were happy enough to sit back and try to play good defense, and countering when given a chance.
After a couple direct set piece opportunities went begging (Alonso just over, Mount hitting the bar again), Barkley doubled Chelsea’s lead with one of his typical head-down runs — except this time he found paydirt with a 20-yard blast.
Liverpool threw on a couple of their big guns, including Firmino and Salah (who was audibly booed because reasons?), but Chelsea managed to hang on for the win and the clean sheet to advance into the FA Cup quarterfinals, the draw for which will be held tomorrow.
- Chelsea back to the 4-3-3 after a three-match run in a 3-4-3. Alonso and Azpi as full backs; Rüdiger and Zouma both come back in, with Gilmour the surprise starter alongside Kovačić and Barkley in the three-man midfield. Lots of experience up front with Pedro and Willian flanking Giroud. And of course Kepa instead of Willy C.
- Kovačić injured just before the half, favoring his left leg/ankle. Able to walk off gingerly under his own power, but wincing. Not great.
- Willian injured just after the half, favoring his left leg/ankle. Able to walk off gingerly under his own power, but wincing. Not great. (Also, not an errant copy of the previous line.)
- Third defeat in four for Liverpool!
- Next up for Chelsea: Everton at home in the league, then a week to rest and recover.