An opportunist David Luiz goal and a Wijnuldum equalizer for Liverpool was enough to share the points and take Chelsea 9 points clear as the other two teams playing tonight in the top 6 both failed to win.
Chelsea played the same formation with three at the back that has served them so well throughout the main part of the season and they looked outstanding. Chelsea could have taken all three points if Diego Costa had not missed a second half penalty.
The first half was more than just shaded by Chelsea, as Liverpool just couldn’t get through Chelsea’s midfield five. There was absolutely no penetration from the Reds as they were closed down high up the pitch.
Liverpool’s only first half chance was after 11 minutes when Wijnuldum had a shot from just outside the penalty area after good work from Coutinho. His fierce shot was parried away well by Courtois.
That was it from the Reds for the rest of the half as Chelsea came into it more and more.
Chelsea took the lead on 25 minutes with a superb opportunist goal from David Luiz. The often slain defender came out with a fantastic piece of individual inspiration as Hazard won a free kick 25 yards out. It looked for all the world as if Willian would give it an in swinger into the top left but while Simone Mignolet in the Liverpool goal was lining up his wall David Luiz unexpectedly ran up and placed the ball with pace into the net off the post.
In the post match interview Mignolet claimed he did not hear the referee’s whistle blow. That old chestnut, oh Mr. Mignolet you really expect us to believe that. Excuse of the day no less to the Liverpool keeper who despite this mad up for his mistake later in the match.
A goal good enough to win the game although it didn’t. Mignolet was called into action in the 29th minute when he palmed away a Willian free kick with a smart piece of goalkeeping.
A rejuvenated Liverpool came out in the second half and were much better. After a great Liverpool move in the 48th minute the ball found Firmino only 10 yards out with the goal at his mercy, instead he hit the ball high and wide and it appeared to end up in the River Mersey. A great move nonetheless.
Three minutes later Victor Moses almost increased Chelsea’s lead when taking the ball on wide in the penalty area as James Milner made a rubbish tackle to allow Moses in but rather than cut the ball back to two waiting Chelsea players he went for glory clipping the post.
It was to prove costly as in the 57th minute Wijnuldum equalized for Liverpool as Henderson played a decent ball into the area, Milner on the far left of the 6 yard box headed the ball back in and as the ball slid off Victor Moses head there was the Wijnuldum to score past Courtois.
In the 76th minute Diego Costa was tripped in the area but the resultant penalty by the Chelsea striker was saved by a diving Simone Mignolet correctly going to his right and pushing the ball away for a corner.
Both teams had a chance to win the match in stoppage time, firstly substitute Pedro had a good effort with a shot that whispered past Mignolet’s post. Liverpool then had a chance to steal the points when Firmino had a header but it was straight at Courtois.
So it was David Luiz in his 100th Chelsea Premier League match who scored his first goal since rejoining the club from his sojourn in France and his first goal for the Blues in all competitions since he notched against Basle in the Europa League as far back as May 2013.
In an entertaining, attractive game 1-1 was the outcome as a Chelsea side looking assured and professional made it 15 wins in the last 17 Premier League games.
Meanwhile Liverpool will go into the coming weekends fixtures with only 1 win in 9 games in all competitions.
Premier League Round Up
Arsenal missed a golden opportunity to close the gap on Chelsea at home to Watford. The Hertfordshire club had lost their last even games and Arsenal had won their last seven matches. So the odds on were for Arsenal to get the gap down on Chelsea by two points while Chelsea were drawing at Liverpool, instead they were shocked by a brave Watford team who took a 2-0 lead into the break with goals from Kaboul on ten minutes and Troy Deeney in the 13th minute.
The Gunners were shell shocked and although they played better in the second half they were complacent. Iwobi, Arsenals best player again got a consolation for the Emirates team but it wasn’t enough in a poor performance that has probably ruined their title chances.
Crystal Palace won at Bournemouth, I’ll just repeat that Crystal Palace won at Bournemouth. Sam Alladyce enjoyed his first win as a Crystal Palace Manager in the Premiership with a 2-0 win at the seaside as Dann scored in the 46th minute and Christian Bentake sealed the win in injury time.
Burnley continued their impressive home form with a single goal victory against a free falling Leicester City team. The Champions (well for a few months at least) are still too close to the relegation zone for comfort and with Palace winning and other results going against the Foxes, Claudio Ranieri has a huge job on his hands to ensure the team don’t go down.
Also Swansea improved their chances of staying up with a 2-1 home win over Southampton who are on a poor run of form to put it mildly and although Shane Long equalized for Southampton after Mawson had given Swansea the lead up popped Sigurdsson to win it for the Swans.
Middlesbrough and West Brom drew 1-1 at the Riverside while bottom placed Sunderland put out Tottenham’s fire with a 0-0 draw to ensure Spurs did not make any ground up on leaders Chelsea.