Mudryk looks the real deal at least! Winners & losers as drab Liverpool & Chelsea prove they're exactly where they should be - mid-table

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Mykhailo Mudryk Chelsea 2022-23
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There was little to get excited about as two average sides played out a goalless draw, but how good did the Blues' £89 million newboy look?!

A meeting of two mid-table teams, and didn’t it show?

Jurgen Klopp’s 1000th game as a manager turned out to be one of the more forgettable ones, as Liverpool and Chelsea played out a 0-0 draw at Anfield, a result which does little for either side’s Champions League ambitions.

It was a contest low on quality and goalmouth action, with a lively cameo from Chelsea newboy Mykhailo Mudryk the standout, in an attacking sense. The Ukraine international had two decent chances to win it, while at the other end Cody Gakpo and Trent Alexander-Arnold were off target with opportunities.

Liverpool, though, offered precious little in front of a frustrated home crowd, with Klopp having chosen to rattle a few cages by leaving the likes of Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip on the bench. Darwin Nunez added a bit of thrust late on, but even the Uruguayan couldn’t find a way through, as their winless Premier League run stretches to three games.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have won only two of their last 11 matches, and on this evidence, it would be a surprise to see either team in the top four come the end of the season.

GOAL runs through the winners and losers at Anfield…

  1. Winner: Mykhailo Mudryk
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    Winner: Mykhailo Mudryk

    Thank God for Chelsea’s new £89 million ($102m) man, or we’d have had precious little to write about, from an attacking perspective.

    It was something of a surprise that Graham Potter chose to leave Mudryk on the bench here, especially with Liverpool fielding the veteran James Milner at right-back due to a muscle niggle for Alexander-Arnold.

    But it didn’t take long for the Bat Signal to go up. Ten minutes into the second half, the Ukrainian was summoned. He replaced the teenager Lewis Hall, trotted over to the left wing and proceeded to give Milner, and then Alexander-Arnold, nightmares.

    His first flash saw him show lightning-quick feet in the penalty area, only to fire his shot into the side-netting. His second saw him rinse Milner for speed, draw a foul and get his man booked. His third should have brought a goal, but he was unable to steer Hakim Ziyech’s deep cross home at the back post, with Milner sleeping.

    Mudryk remained a permanent menace against Alexander-Arnold, who was wisely brought on by Klopp, and created a chance which fellow sub Carney Chukwuemeka could have taken in stoppage time. He plays with his head up, with speed and awareness, and he looks like he is going to be a very exciting signing for Chelsea.

  2. Loser: Mohamed Salah
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    Loser: Mohamed Salah

    The King’s dry spell goes on, as far as Liverpool are concerned. You could never question Salah’s belief or mentality, but right now the Egyptian is some way short of his best, and having little real impact on his team’s performance.

    He was peripheral here, despite being up against Marc Cucurella, a left-back whose approach to defending could best be described as “casual”. Salah finished having taken only one shot - he miscued another chance completely - and with Cucurella having come out on top of their duel.

    It was surprising that Klopp did not choose to try his star man down the middle of the attack, to be honest. Instead, he shoehorned Harvey Elliott into a left-sided role which the youngster never looked comfortable in, and asked Cody Gakpo to play as the No.9. Gakpo did fine, but is nowhere near as penetrating as Salah at his best. Unfortunately, Salah is nowhere near his best at the moment.

    Klopp has a long list of problems to solve at Anfield, but finding a way to get his talisman back into games has to be high up on it.

  3. Winner: Ibrahima Konate
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    Winner: Ibrahima Konate

    It was most definitely a case of defences on top, as a score of big-money attackers failed to make the breakthrough. 

    Konate was Liverpool’s best, the Frenchman putting his post-World Cup wobbles behind him with a couple of assured performances, and a couple of clean sheets, this week.

    Just as at Wolves in midweek, Konate was partnered by Joe Gomez, and while the England man had a few shaky moments in the first half, the former Leipzig centre-back was dominant, winning his headers and tackles and controlling Chelsea’s counter-attacking threat with his pace and strength.

    Gomez, in fairness, improved measurably in the second half, and Liverpool probably deserved their shutout in the end. It’s something to take away, at least, after an otherwise underwhelming performance.

  4. Loser: Kai Havertz
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    Loser: Kai Havertz

    “This was a game which lacked a No.9,” said Steven Gerrard, analysing the game for BT Sport, and it was hard to argue with the former Liverpool man’s assessment.

    While the home side asked Gakpo to do his best impression of Roberto Firmino, Chelsea kept faith with Germany international Havertz, who had scored the winner last time out against Crystal Palace.

    He thought he’d scored here, too, only for VAR to spot an offside after he converted a rebound inside the first three minutes. As it turned out, that was his last real, tangible attacking contribution. 

    He can look lovely at times, Havertz, but when Chelsea needed him to hold the ball up he didn’t, when they needed him to run in behind he couldn’t, and when they looked to him for a goal he was nowhere to be seen. He was replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang late on, with the Gabon international unable to offer anything new.

    With Mudryk, Joao Felix and Noni Madueke joining a remarkable band of wide forwards, it surely can’t be long before Havertz either clicks into action, or is removed from the firing line. On this evidence, the latter looks closer.

  5. Winner: Thiago Silva
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    Winner: Thiago Silva

    Is there a better centre-back in the Premier League right now than Silva? The Brazilian continues, at 38, to defy the odds by performing consistently in the most intense league in the world, and he was superb once more here, albeit against rather powderpuff opposition.

    He might have given his side an early lead, only to strike the post in front of the Kop, with Havertz offside from the rebound, but it was his work in the other penalty area which stood out, as he controlled Gakpo, Salah and Liverpool’s midfield runners.

    Time and again, Silva was in the right place to clear, or to block or to step across and win the ball. He picked out Havertz with a gorgeous pass which the German miskicked, and never looked ruffled even when Liverpool, belatedly, came out blazing at the start of the second period.

    They’ve done a fair bit of business in the transfer market over the past few years, Chelsea, and wasted a fair bit of money. This fella, though, is as good a buy as they’ve ever made.

  6. Loser: Jordan Henderson
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    Loser: Jordan Henderson

    What did today say about Liverpool’s captain, one wonders? In years gone by, Henderson would have been an automatic pick for a game such as this, but he was left out by Klopp, with teenager Stefan Bajcetic handed his first Premier League start and the enigmatic Naby Keita given his first league start of the season instead.

    That’s how bad things have got in the Liverpool midfield. Memories of that shelling at Brighton last weekend clearly linger for Klopp, and he was not prepared to risk a repeat here, with Henderson and Fabinho left in reserve until eight minutes from time.

    They should come again, of course. They are too good, too experienced and too pedigreed not to, but if they aren’t looking at themselves in the mirror this evening, then they should be.

    Klopp’s selection said more than 1000 words could.