I looked to the list of what to expect from the bevy of football this weekend, and Chelsea vs Liverpool surpassed even the United game in terms of excitement. It was a meeting of two potential Premier League champions. However, when it actually came to it, it was a total non-starter. I fear that modern football is going this way, possession football over exciting football. The gegenpressing of Liverpool always set the heart racing, but that has been whittled away.
A First Half Lullaby
This is something that I feel very passionate about. I lived through the Louis Van Gaal brand of football at Manchester United. I know what it’s like to be bored of watching of the game. Scouts look at centre-backs regarding their ability to handle the ball at their feet. This game took it to the max. It is very rare that a game where there were two goals, a red card and a penalty could be described as boring. This, however, was the personification of the word.
There was not a single big chance before the rugby tackle that got Andreas Christensen sent off. The conservatism of the play was absolutely perfect to set the tone of what was to come. There was no penetration to the play, as both sides tried simply to out possess the other, which leads me onto my next point-
Possession Football Is Killing Modern Football
Once all the action was over, the red card on 45 minutes, the goal on 46 and the second on around 50 minutes, there wasn’t much to talk about. I feel sorry for the guys who had to analyse that, Neville and Carragher were already struggling. At one point, Neville said it was Liverpool at their best, and he was being serious, yet nothing had happened. Liverpool had had a shot that was off target, but that was one of the most memorable moments of the game.
Between the second goal and the penalty, there was no sign of Liverpool’s “superior” brand of football. They passed it round the back, passed it slightly forward, then back again, then finally back to the keeper. Some people would call it ending the game professionally, I call it like watching paint dry.
Conservatism To Match Boris Johnson
The Southampton vs Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle vs Brighton games both had the ball in the net after 5 minutes. Both teams looked more scared of conceding than itching to score. They say football is an attacker’s game these days rather than a defender’s game – this was a defensive midfielder’s game. Both teams looked a little too overcoached in my opinion, there was no flair.
This is even more painful to watch when you have players like Salah, Mane, Havertz and Werner on the field. If you look up flair in the dictionary, there will only be pictures of those four players. These players all had very thick leashes attached to them here, they wouldn’t have earned that description. It was enough to bore people stiff, yet Mane got two goals, while Chelsea got a penalty and a red card. I only hope that this was early season fitness, looking to get some game time in after the short pre-season. Otherwise, we are in for a very underwhelming season ahead of us if this is the title race.