Liverpool threw a 2-0 lead for the umpteenth time this season to draw 2-2 with Chelsea and waste a precious opportunity to claw back three points in the title race.
Jurgen Klopp was not at the game due to a positive COVID-19 test and the German also had to shake his starting XI up as Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip are in isolation after testing positive themselves.
But James Milner starting in central midfield was a baffling decision in one of the biggest games of the season and was almost insulting to Naby Keita unless there is a piece of information the public is not privy to.
The Guinean might not have the best injury record but he’s fit right now, he’s the better player and he’s defensively much more reliable than Milner and yet despite an agreement being reached with the Guinean FA to keep Keita for the Chelsea game, he wasn’t started and now he’s at AFCON for a month so he’s going to be unavailable.
In 2019, Keita joked in an interview that maybe one day, like Sadio Mane, he’ll be Klopp’s favourite.
Looking back, as much as that was said tongue in cheek, it’s difficult to see what the midfielder needs to do to start ahead of 36-year-old Milner in a must-win game.
The game at Stamford Bridge was pretty much a game to decide who was going to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title but now it looks as though neither has much of a chance.
I wrote an article on New Year’s day about what Liverpool should do about Keita’s contract situation. The former RB Leipzig star joined the club for €62m (£52m) and has around 18 months left on his deal and unless he signs a new deal, he could leave for free next summer.
However, after Klopp elected to drop him against Chelsea earlier this season for 18-year-old Harvey Elliott and last night for 36-year-old James Milner, the player might start wondering if his time at the club is up.
He’s fit and there are no obvious reasons why he (or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) should not be starting ahead of Milner in a game that required defensive discipline, athleticism and composure.
Liverpool could not get out of their box and this was largely due to Milner and Jordan Henderson’s inability to play their way out of the back under extreme pressure and it resulted in Chelsea dominating the opening exchanges.
A mistake from Trevoh Chalobah handed Sadio Mane the lucky break Liverpool were in need of after a punishing opening 10 or so minutes as the underfire Senegal star fired the Reds into the leading after rounding his international teammate to fire the ball home in the 9th minute.
Mohamed Salah scored another world-class goal to double the lead but poor defending from Liverpool means the Egyptian has scored another worldie which ultimately counts for nothing.