Plus: Julian Alvarez steals the headlines as Erling Haaland returns for Man City in their win over Burnley; Timo Werner shows the value of Tottenham conducting their transfer business in early January as he helps to see off Brentford
Bradley is a symbol of this new Liverpool
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea
The roar that greeted Conor Bradley’s goal in Liverpool’s 4-1 win over Chelsea was that little bit louder than the rest. It was a reward for his fine form since coming into the side but it was also a reminder that Jurgen Klopp is building an exciting new team.
Bradley has looked assured defensively, combative in the tackle, impressive in possession and has now shown a finishing ability that Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez would envy. He is more than filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold. He was a worthy player of the match.
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With two assists as well as his goal, the Northern Ireland international has certainly won over the Anfield crowd – they chanted his name more than once on the night. He looks like a strength rather than a weakness, highlighting the depth in this squad now.
That gives Klopp options, the opportunity to deploy Alexander-Arnold in midfield rather than at right-back, for instance. Expect him to have a big impact this season and beyond. At a time when the focus is on Liverpool stories coming to an end, another is just beginning.
Chelsea’s lack of leadership has never been more apparent
Image: Mykhailo Mudryk missed a sitter as Chelsea slumped at Anfield
Once again, it’s two steps forward, two steps back for Chelsea. After winning three in a row in the Premier League for the first time under Mauricio Pochettino, his side produced a woeful display at Anfield.
It was the same in November, when Chelsea followed up impressive results against Tottenham and Manchester City by getting thrashed at Newcastle.
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But even more worrying than the inconsistency – or the one-sided result – was the nature of Chelsea’s performance against Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were predictably fired up in their first Premier League game since he announced his planned exit, but it seemingly caught Chelsea by surprise.
The visitors were second to everything. They continuously gave the ball away in dangerous areas. They lost their runners.
Investing in youth has had the predictable consequence of leaving Chelsea short of two vital components that make up successful teams – experience and leadership.
Never was it more apparent than on Wednesday night.
Alvarez outshines returning Haaland for City
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Man City’s win over Burnley
Erling Haaland’s return from injury against Burnley was a major boost for Manchester City. His second-half introduction was cheered as loudly as any of their goals. But it was Julian Alvarez who inflicted most of the damage on the night.
His double, scored in the space of six first-half minutes, took him to eight for the campaign in the Premier League and 15 overall. He also has six assists. He is quietly having an excellent season.
And yet a look at the statistics on Wednesday night suggests he did little other than score. The Argentine only had 24 touches, by far the fewest of City’s starters, and only completed 12 passes. His goals came from his only two shots of the night.
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The Argentine is an atypical Manchester City player, low-touch but high-efficiency, and it is that streamlined effectiveness that makes him so important to Pep Guardiola. Alvarez is not the beating heart of this team but he almost always affects games.
It is for that reason that he has become so prominent. In the Premier League so far this season, the 24-year-old is the only Manchester City player to have started all 21 games.
The assumption is that Haaland’s return will bump him out of the team. But do not be surprised if Guardiola continues to find room for him. This was just one of many games this season in which he has underlined his importance.
Werner’s impact shows Spurs’ early business is paying off
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Tottenham and Brentford
With James Maddison making his first start since November, the England international was all set to grab the headlines, but it was Timo Werner who impressed most in attack.
The German was a constant threat down the left and caused Brentford plenty of problems, grabbing an assist for the second goal.
- Tottenham 3-2 Brentford – Report and highlights
- How the teams lined up | Match stats
His eye-catching performance drew praise from Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou.
“I thought he was great,” the Australian said. “He’s a quality player. As he gets stronger and fitter and understands our game a little bit better, I think he’ll become even more effective.
“I know there’s goals in him as well and that will come with time.”
Spurs usually leave their business towards the end of the transfer window but this month they acted early by bringing in Werner on loan, and that swift action is paying off.
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