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Mudryk looks like the real deal at least for Chelsea

There was little to get excited about as two average sides played out a goalless draw, but how good did the Blues' £89 million newsboy look?!
Frenkie Tran
By: Frenkie Tran
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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. Betimate runs through the winners and losers at Anfield…

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.

Winner: Mykhailo Mudryk

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.

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 a 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.

Loser: Mohamed Salah

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.

Winner: Ibrahima Konate

It was most definitely a case of defenses 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.

Winner: Ibrahima Konate

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 center-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.

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. 

Loser: Kai Havertz

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.

Frenkie Tran
Written by: Frenkie Tran
My football predictions cover a variety of competitions and tournaments. In addition to English and European football, football predictions also include tips on games taking place in the USA, Australia, Africa, South America and beyond, from famous leagues such as the Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga to popular national leagues such as Croatian First League and Portugal Primeira.

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Premier League
Overall table PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1 Arsenal 50 19 16 2 1 45 16 29
2 Man City 45 20 14 3 3 53 20 33
3 Newcastle 39 20 10 9 1 33 11 22
4 Man Utd 39 20 12 3 5 32 25 7
5 Tottenham 36 21 11 3 7 40 31 9
6 Brighton 31 19 9 4 6 37 27 10
7 Fulham 31 21 9 4 8 32 30 2
8 Brentford 30 20 7 9 4 32 28 4
9 Liverpool 29 19 8 5 6 34 25 9
10 Chelsea 29 20 8 5 7 22 21 1
11 Aston Villa 28 20 8 4 8 23 27 -4
12 Crystal Palace 24 20 6 6 8 18 27 -9
13 Nottm Forest 21 20 5 6 9 16 35 -19
14 Leicester 18 20 5 3 12 28 35 -7
15 Leeds 18 19 4 6 9 26 33 -7
16 West Ham 18 20 5 3 12 17 25 -8
17 Wolverhampton 17 20 4 5 11 12 30 -18
18 Bournemouth 17 20 4 5 11 19 42 -23
19 Everton 15 20 3 6 11 15 28 -13
20 Southampton 15 20 4 3 13 17 35 -18