Chelsea started with a 4-3-3 formation (often changing to 4-2-3-1/4-3-2-1 depending on how the wingers chose to position) while pressing, with Barkley, Willian, and Pedro often forming a block behind Giroud. In the build-up, Gilmour often acted as the only pivot in front of the centre backs, as his high composure and technical skills helped him in carrying out his task. Apart from using the DM pivot in build-up, Chelsea utilized repetitive long balls from the CBs to wide areas or to Giroud (due to his great ability to win aerial battles).
Jurgen Klopp came to Stamford Bridge NOT looking to try something new – although he defended with a strange 6-3-1 shape behind the ball for few minutes in the first half. He set Liverpool up in his usual 4-3-3, having Curtis and Lallana covering more blades of grass, and Fabinho as the cover pivot for the energetic box-to-box midfielders.
Chelsea changed their overall structure slightly, employing traditional fullbacks instead of the usual wingbacks- perhaps wary of Liverpool’s transitional play. Azpilicueta was instructed to sit back while Alonso on the other flank would attack (frequently, but only in the first half), but not like his usual wing back role. In this match he comes forward as an Inverted Wing Back centrally, either to shoot or to act as an extra man forward.
The absence of fullbacks in attack left both the creativity and crossing duties to the wingers. Willian and Pedro both drifted in centrally, when needed, and would then hug the touchline in other situations to cross.
The substitution of Kovacic for Mount saw Barkley and Mount interchange positions, deciding who would pair with Gilmour, though Mount later chose to operate mostly in advanced areas.
The substitution of Jorginho for an injured Willian saw Mount move wide to the flanks. Gilmour played ahead of Jorginho, partnering with Barkley, and making it a structured 4-3-3 shape.
13th Minute:- Willian’s goal resulted from winning the ball through a well organized, pressing play. After Chelsea positioned themselves to block the passing options, a forced pass from Van dijk to Fabinho (under pressure from Barkley) led to the resulting ball to Willian. Adrian could be blamed, but one cannot deny William had a top strike.
64th Minute:- Giroud, even when he can’t finish, maintains a quality that disturbs every top side. With his great aerial ability and excellent hold up play, he laid the pass to Barkley who carried the ball with precision, and finished it smartly past Adrian.
In the goals department there should have been more: Mount, Pedro, and Giroud all had the opportunity. But the fact that zero goals hit the back of our net makes it easy to forgive their lack of finishing.
We managed to produce a solid midfield- something we’ve long missed – and we recovered the ball excellently. The two midfield variations used, 1-2 or 2-1, were successful thanks to Billy Gilmour and Barkley, and a Pedro marathon show.
When one analyses Gilmour, his technique tops the quality list. But a world class highlight of him tonight was winning physical battles against engines like Milner and Fabinho. Perhaps he has even solidified himself as a regular starter.
Definitely the MOTM!