FA Cup: Chelsea's domination and 2-0 win over Liverpool proves that Reds' captain Jordan Henderson is dearly missed

Notching back-to-back losses in all competitions, it seems like this Liverpool team is starting to believe that they only need to turn up for a win, and for that, they have been duly punished

Srijandeep Das March 04, 2020 14:55:12 IST
FA Cup: Chelsea's domination and 2-0 win over Liverpool proves that Reds' captain Jordan Henderson is dearly missed
  • Notching back-to-back losses in all competitions, it seems like this Liverpool team is starting to believe that they only need to turn up for a win, and for that, they have been duly punished

  • It went downhill soon enough when at the 13th minute, a Willian shot aimed directly at Liverpool’s goalkeeper Adrian was flapped at awkwardly and into his own net

  • If the first goal was a sucker-punch, the second goal summed up Liverpool’s problems in a space of twenty seconds

Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup in a 5th Round showdown at the Stamford Bridge by Chelsea. The scoreline was 2-0. Although, it could have easily been 6-3. Going the other way, Liverpool lined up like ducks in a shooting range, while going forward, they misfired like a gun that sprouts a rose when the trigger is pulled.

Frank Lampard’s young side further established his managerial credo at the expense of the European manager of the year, Jurgen Klopp. Usually found figuratively snowboarding down and up the hill of emotions on the touchline, the German manager was unusually expressionless. As were his team.

Virgil van Dijk, the Liverpool captain and his men did not display a lack of effort. However, it was as if a team of avant-garde artists had approached a canvas with the intention of painting a masterpiece but ended the night with a thumbprint art that was only fit to go up on a proud parent’s refrigerator door. The brush and the craftsmanship were missing. Notching back-to-back losses in all competitions, it seems like this Liverpool team is starting to believe that they only need to turn up for a win, and for that, they have been duly punished.

It went downhill soon enough when at the 13th minute, a Willian shot aimed directly at Liverpool’s goalkeeper Adrian was flapped at awkwardly and into his own net. This started a surge of shots from the Chelsea attack that Liverpool were too hard-pressed to fend or to mount any of their own in the opening exchanges.

If the first goal was a sucker-punch, the second goal summed up Liverpool’s problems in a space of twenty seconds.

FA Cup Chelseas domination and 20 win over Liverpool proves that Reds captain Jordan Henderson is dearly missed

Chelsea's Billy Gilmour, right, controls the ball past Liverpool's Adam Lallana during the English FA Cup fifth round match between Chelsea and Liverpool. AP

The ball breaks loose to Ross Barkley, causing the Liverpool lines to fall back. Failures in an attempt to clear the ball from his toes caused a convergence of Liverpool players, with which he escaped with a squiggle of his body and ball. Defensive midfielder Fabinho was backseat driver to the entire event after his initial unsuccessful challenge. Prance here a skip there, and Ross Barkley found himself at the edge of the Liverpool box. Adrian poised himself only to be caught flatfooted by the close-body follow-through of the shot, which caused it to nestle in the near corner. Celebrations around Stamford Bridge for a well-deserved goal.

Moments earlier, from where the shot was taken, a free-kick was placed and then smacked against the crossbar from the boot of Mason Mount. As Mason Mount went through the motion of dispatching the free-kick, it brought back a spine-tingling sense of deja vu among Liverpool fans.

Deep within the recesses of their minds were the repressed memories of a Didier Drogba led Chelsea FC, who had made Stamford Bridge a den for them, and a crypt for travelling teams. When Didier Drogba would line up free-kicks, they usually found the net and the opposing team went home with nothing.

Liverpool came home with nothing. Chelsea took a hammer and smashed Liverpool’s perceived invincibility. Even Virgil van Dijk’s impressive, impervious facade was sweating; as if he was handcuffed in an interrogation room by Chelsea’s forwards. Joe Gomez did his best to keep up to the pace of the game, but his overall fatigue meant he was always three steps behind towards the end of the match. Gomez, who has been clocked as one of Premier League’s quickest defenders was toiling. His posture lurched further as if he was pushing a golf cart up a cliff.

Legendary Scotsman and former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said that natural enthusiasm is mankind’s greatest gift. His countryman Andy Robertson, Liverpool’s left-back showed plenty of enthusiasm last night, but little bravura. This meant he was caught high up the pitch on more than one occasion, as was the youngster Neco Williams at right-back. It allowed Chelsea to double up on the counter, and overload Liverpool man for man.

FA Cup Chelseas domination and 20 win over Liverpool proves that Reds captain Jordan Henderson is dearly missed

Chelsea's Pedro, left, is tackled by Liverpool's James Milner during the English FA Cup fifth round match between Chelsea and Liverpool. AP

Chelsea pressed in the shape of a diamond, a formation that had brought about its best results during their dominance of the 2000s. Even in one on one situations, the Liverpool tackler and the one sweeping space were blocked from dovetailing with the direction of the centre aligned Chelsea runs. Those were the spaces that Jordan Henderson would occupy. The Liverpool captain was out with injury.

Liverpool miss their skipper more than some of their fans would care to admit. The number 14 is much more than a tub-thumper, a bellowing mascot. He is the rivet that keeps Liverpool’s train on the tracks. Without him, the choo-chooing has altogether stopped in terms of quick turnovers.

Statistically, without Jordan Henderson in the team, the opponent holds onto the ball for a longer time and cover more distance up the pitch. In simpler words, Jordan Henderson closes the elevator door just when the rival team is about to board it.

The battling abilities of Liverpool’s most underrated player in recent memory have not been understated. When he’s in the team, the opponent can expect a moshpit in midfield. But what’s not underlined often enough is the tactical fortitude he brings to Liverpool’s machinery. As a player, he is able to cover the right wing-back slot, when an opposing team is targeting Trent Alexander/Neco Willaims with an overload. It happened notably against Crystal Palace. Jordan Henderson pulled his socks up and did the work of two men, running the entire right flank.

As a midfield force, he has been tasked to mesh with the backline as a central defender as against Wolves. In many ways, he’s Liverpool’s fire chief, putting out flames hopping on his imaginary red fire engine.

Without him, there is a hole in Liverpool’s sole that opponents like Chelsea will continue to exploit.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Former Liverpool and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence passes away aged 72
Sports

Former Liverpool and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence passes away aged 72

Clemence, one of the greatest English goalkeepers of his generation, won three European Cups and five top-tier league titles during a trophy-laden spell at Liverpool.

Premier League expected to stick to three-substitutes rule: CEO Richard Masters
Sports

Premier League expected to stick to three-substitutes rule: CEO Richard Masters

Liverpool manager Klopp and Manchester City boss Guardiola have been vociferous in their calls for the Premier League to allow five substitutions, with fears over rising player injuries during the hectic fixture schedule.

Premier League: Son Heung-min, Lo Celso on target as Tottenham stun Manchester City; Chelsea beat Newcastle United
Sports

Premier League: Son Heung-min, Lo Celso on target as Tottenham stun Manchester City; Chelsea beat Newcastle United

Spurs ended the day on top of the table for the first time in six years as goals from Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso saw off a toothless City at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.