Klopp unearths another gem as Bradley shines in Liverpool's win over Chelsea
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Jurgen Klopp seems to have unearthed another gem in his final season at Liverpool after 20-year-old right back Conor Bradley scored one goal and set up two more in a 4-1 win over Chelsea in the Premier League on Wednesday.
Bradley, an academy product, has been filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold during the England international's recent injury layoff. He did his best impression of Liverpool's first-choice right back in the way he took his goal and assisted on others for Diogo Jota and Dominik Szoboszlai at Anfield.
“It just feels like I’m in a dream,” said Bradley, a Northern Ireland international who joined Liverpool's youth academy in 2019. “It's unbelievable.”
Luis Diaz grabbed Liverpool's fourth goal in a relentless, dominant display by the hosts that included a missed penalty by Darwin Nunez, who struck the post with his attempt and hit the goal frame three times in total in the match.
By securing the 200th Premier League win of Klopp's tenure, Liverpool maintained its five-point lead over Manchester City, which also won Wednesday by beating Burnley 3-1. City has a game in hand.
With Klopp announcing Friday that he will be leaving at the end of the season after nearly nine years in charge, Liverpool will be hard to stop as the team makes an emotionally charged push for the title.
Klopp has plenty of strength in depth for the run-in, with Bradley turning out to be a nice surprise and clearly able to provide great cover for Alexander-Arnold.
Bradley was constantly marauding forward and he slipped in Jota, who dribbled between Thiago Silva and Benoit Badiashile before shooting home left-footed to give Liverpool a 23rd-minute lead.
Bradley added a second in the 39th by running onto a pass from Diaz, advancing 30 meters and driving a low shot into the far corner from just inside the area. It was a finish of which Alexander-Arnold would have been proud, just like the cross Bradley provided for Szoboszlai to head home in the 65th.
“Trent should take care of his position,” Szoboszlai said in a cheeky warning to Alexander-Arnold given Bradley's form.
Bradley said he'd done “pretty well” in Alexander-Arnold's absence.
“It was unfortunate the way Trent got injured," he said. “I just had to try to take my chance.”
Nunez made up for his penalty miss by crossing for Diaz to score in the 79th, restoring Liverpool's three-goal cushion after Christopher Nkunku netted for Chelsea in the 71st after coming on as a substitute.
There was a huge gulf between the teams, and the manner of Liverpool's win might be psychologically damaging for Chelsea ahead of their meeting in the League Cup final on Feb. 25.
“It’s so clear they were much better than us," Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “We lost every single duel.”
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