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Mateo Kovačić still not fully fit, disappointed with draw, happy with goal and comeback

Crane-kicking Croat Kid

Chelsea v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Mateo Kovačić put in one of the performances of the season last night in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool — see also: N’Golo Kanté — scoring not only a goal of the season contender, but running all over the pitch, making key passes, beating everyone on the dribble, and generally being a force of nature for whom Liverpool had little answer.

Our 2019-20 Player of the Season has always had the technical ability, but he’s been really developing this sort of all-around play over the past few years, and in this game, he truly showed off everything he was capable of.

To make all that even more impressive, the 27-year-old did it while still not quite fully fit after missing all of November and half of December with injury and then a positive COVID-19 test. And yet, he made it through a second full-90 in just a few days, after doing the same in the 1-1 draw against Brighton last Wednesday — his first two starts in fact since October.

“I had some difficulties over the last two months. I think I started the season quite well, I felt very good, but then I got an injury and when I came back I got Covid. So it was not easy but I was working a lot to come back and gaining fitness game by game.

“Today was an important test for me because Liverpool is a high-intensity team, so I think I coped good with that, but still there is a lot of room for improvement for me and to gain fitness even more.”

Unfortunately, his (and the team’s) efforts were rewarded only with a draw, which ultimately left a disappointing taste in his mouth, even if there are plenty of positives to take from the overall performance.

“We are happy with the comeback and the team spirit we showed, but not happy with the two points dropped because we obviously wanted to win this game, but it was difficult to come back after we conceded two goals like that. They should not happen at this level, but it happened to us today and we came back amazing.

“For me it’s always two points dropped because we always want to win and we wanted to earn the three points to get closer to City. But we showed great character, we came back and that’s what it is about. It showed our great team spirit.”

“[The] two goals killed us, but it happened and we showed great team spirit to come back, we scored two good goals and we had a very good second half, just allowing some chances against us we should not. We had many chances, but also they had good chances, so it was a great game of football. I’m glad we showed such a great team spirit. We should be happy with our good performance overall and we should continue to play like that.”

-Mateo Kovačić; source: Metro

It’s Manchester City’s title to lose, but we have plenty left to fight for, including multiple trophies. In fact, next up is the first leg of the League Cup semifinal against Spurs. Another Herculean effort will be required.