As a Friday night game this fixture away to Chelsea was getting the full hyped up treatment by the media and Sky Sports alike. Most thinking too much over the top. Or was it? Simply put in my opinion if we can win away at Chelsea under an Italian mastermind like Antonio Conte then this Liverpool team will fear no one this season.
In team news Daniel Sturridge kept his place and in came Dejan Lovren for Lucas Leiva at the back and Philippe Couthino also came back into the starting 11 at the expense of a slightly injured Roberto Firmino. Apart from those changes it was the same team that started against Leicester.
One notable change on the Chelsea team saw David Luiz make his comeback for the injured John Terry. A lot was being made beforehand of Luiz and how he will fit into this Conte team, some even hinting that he has not been a Conte signing at all.
As the game got underway Liverpool came right out of the blocks with a high tempo and a lot of good possession that saw them press high up on Luiz as much as possible. Obviously identifying the new centre back as a player to get in and around hoping to cause havoc and uncertainty.
The first twenty minutes passed by with Liverpool dominating the midfiel and for long periods Liverpool were camped out on the edge of the home teams eighteen yard box, looking for the breakthrough with usual intricate passing through Adam Lallana, Sadio Mané and Daniel Sturridge.
Chelsea for their part were reduced to trying to break out on counter attacks with long hopeless balls easily swept up by Dejan Lovren and Joël Matip in acres of space.
On seventeen mins Liverpool get a soft free kick out wide on the left wing. The resultant short free kick was played back to Couthino which resulted in a perfect cross to the back post, again on Luiz’s side, to were Liverpool players seemed to be lining up unmarked. Lovren was the one to benefit from very slack marking and a cleverly worked free kick to half volley the ball past the diving Courtois to give the reds a well deserved lead.
Chelsea managed to find some of the ball after the goal and started to get forward with the culmination of a series of free kicks and corners into the Liverpool’s box, all of which were repelled with apparent ease and this period of a small fight from the home team seemed to fade away again as Liverpool took hold of the game again in midfield. Ngolo Kante looked lost and was reduced to trying pot shots himself when put under huge pressure from the impressive Jordan Henderson and Co.
Liverpool’s pressure paid off again for on thirty six minutes when following a simple throw in on the left wing the ball is taken in to the box only to be cleared poorly by Gary Cahill straight to Henderson who kills the ball with one touch and with the other touch rifles the ball into the top corner. Inch perfect as the diving goalkeeper could not get near it. A truly wonderful goal and nothing more than the visitors deserve at this point and the first half closes out again with a small whimper from the home team.
Into the second half and no changes were made from either side. Chelsea began to show something of themselves with some more control of their own ball and possession. Liverpool although having two goals in hand only needed to pick their opportunities and break on Chelsea when able to. The half consisted basically of more of the same as first half, mostly controlled by the visitors but there were really only two points of note on this half of football.
Daniel Sturridge was replaced on fifty six minutes by Divock Origi, no doubt to hold ball up and run the channels more on a now visibly tiring Chelsea team.
The first big point came shortly after this on the hour mark, when Nemanja Matic somehow seemed to evade a couple of missed tackles found himself in the box on the end line managed to dig out a ball to the waiting Diego Costa to stab to the new from two yards. A goal that really came out of nothing and threw the home team somewhat of a lifeline. They applied some pressure for the next five minutes or so which Liverpool were able to see off.
Origi had his chance to score on eighty one minutes when a fine cross to the far post after a long build up of passing and good probing seen him head down into the ground and Courtois produced a fine save to turn it around. A chance to kill this one sided game off missed but as the game ran out it was not a crucial miss.
Liverpool after a dominate first half display were able to dig in and repel the pressure applied at times and still were the more visible threat going forward.
All in all Jürgen Klopp will know this is a huge scalp so early in the season meaning his team now move level with Chelsea in the table on 10 points.
Two wins and a draw away to the top three teams in London so early on looks like good business and will go along way in convincing his players that they are capable of having a big season.
A special note in this game is that I noticed although Chelsea did have an amount of corners and free kicks it the box with a big team of players, Liverpool were well able to repel all such attempts with relative ease. Joël Matip seems to be a hugely calming influence back there already and we seem to be learning how to defend set pieces and the secondary balls also.
On again we go now to the next game as we can sit back this weekend now and watch the results come in to see who slips up.
Written by @StephenKing75