Liverpool pleased with draw at Stamford Bridge
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A subtle glance of the eyes and a gentle swivel of the hips is all Mohamed Salah needed to bypass Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso, before doubling Liverpool’s lead at Stamford Bridge. The Egyptian King jinxed his was past the helpless Spaniard, before sliding an effort through the inconceivably small space between Edouard Mendy and his near-post.
What a huge miss the Egyptian King will be for Jurgen Klopp’s side, and what a huge mistake Chelsea made, letting him slip through their fingers.
Salah’s moment of mastery proceeded an instinctive and clinical finish from Sadio Mane, who capitalised on an unfortunate mistake from youngster Trevoh Chalobah, before rounding Mendy and firing into an empty net.
You never would have guessed the Senegalese international had just ended a barren run of seven consecutive Premier League matches, such was the emphatic and confident manner he dispatched off his effort.
And Liverpool will have to try and keep tabs with a Manchester City side, who are now disappearing into the Premier League title winning distance, without their two talismen.
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Pep Guardiola’s side have amassed an enormous ten-point lead at the top of the table, and an eleven point gap between themselves and third place Liverpool.
That deficit will be reduced to eight points if the Reds win their game in hand, but the prospect of City’s blue and white ribbons remaining on the Premier League trophy is very quickly becoming a formality.
In the eyes of many, all hopes of Liverpool chasing Manchester City may have departed on the same planes as Salah and Mane.
Yet, when optimism has been at its lowest and the chips have been down, one Liverpool ‘icon’ always seems to come alive – Divock Origi.
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The Belgian has become a cult-hero at Anfield having scored a magnificent brace against Barcelona in the infamous Champions League semi-final victory against the Catalans, before hammering home the clinching second goal in the final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Almost exclusively from the bench, he has won Merseyside derbies at the death, brought European royalty to their knees, and been the shining light in many dark performances. Now he has the opportunity to inject further energy and fire into a Liverpool title challenge which is flickering in the face of a Manchester City hurricane.
And boy do Liverpool need him. Riyad Mahrez is the only player who will depart the league leaders for the AFCON, and Guardiola has an embarrassment of riches to fill the void including Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, and the Premier League’s record transfer Jack Grealish.
Guardiola’s Citizens are unique to the Premier League, as they are perhaps the only team who are very rarely weakened by injury, Coronavirus, or suspension crises.
Origi may very well admit that he is no Salah or Mane, yet the world was his oyster when Liverpool signed him from Lille when he was a young, up and coming talent destined for greatness.
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The Champions League and Premier League winners’ medals in his trophy cabinet are not signs of failure, yet the Reds would have garnered aspirations of Origi leading the line when they signed him in the summer of 2014.
Origi would have likely walked away from Anfield in the summer, had a serious offer been made to sign the 26-year-old, but to Klopp’s astonishment, none were forthcoming. However, Origi has the chance to show he can shoulder the burdens always carried by Salah and Mane.
And with the departing Liverpool duos’ contracts, as well as that of Roberto Firmino set to expire in the summer of 2023, Origi may very well need to get used to spearheading the attack.
December reports from Marca claimed Liverpool had entered the race to sign Erling Haaland, whose £65m release clause at Borussia Dortmund is set to become enacted in the summer. The Reds do not part with their money easily, and rarely get drawn into such exuberant bidding wars. Yet when situation calls for it, they will decisively spend the money when their options are few.
Origi may still be an option for the Reds, and Salah and Mane’s AFCON exploits could be his final opportunity to prove he can become the player Liverpool hoped he would become.
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