Playing in London seems to be an incredible treat for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp this season, beating Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, something of a given for them these days, helped by a stunning goal by Jordan Henderson, and signaling that there’s one more team that needs to be added to the title race.
Following their terrific performance in the win over Leicester, while Chelsea were coming off their first dropped points of the season, Liverpool headed into a stadium they’ve done very well at over the last four or five seasons, and dominated early on with their high pressure and the ability to completely cancel out the Chelsea midfield, with their advantage all over the pitch soon turning into something more substantial, while Chelsea presented David Luiz in a lineup that struggled helping out Diego Costa.
Match Highlights & Goals
Liverpool’s first goal came from a Philippe Coutinho assist. The Liverpool corner dragged the entire Chelsea defense to one side of the penalty box, leaving three players completely open on the right edge of it. Coutinho’s cross landed where it should, allowing Dejan Lovren, sporting an impressive shiner under his right eye, giving the visitors a deserved lead.
The lead didn’t change the dynamic of the match. Chelsea looked like a team without enough options to bring the ball forward and present counter pressure, except for the random cross or ball that Diego Costa managed to do something with, and it wasn’t a lot. The Brazilian-Spanish striker did end up scoring a goal later on to make the match interesting, but something about him seemed less vital and vibrant than usual. It means less potential-red card clashes, but also less contribution to a team that relies on him a bit too much at this point.
Liverpool’s second goal was Henderson showing he’s back. He’s been quite inconsistent since the beginning of the season, but his stunning long range missile that landed well past the declining Thibaut Courtois was his finest strike since that goal against Manchester City. It seems Henderson needs something like this to once again establish himself as one of the more dominant and exciting midfielders in the Premier League, if he ever was one.
Klopp doesn’t have a team that can hold on to leads. It’s either attack and press or fall back. He chose to fall back, probably too early, taking out Daniel Sturridge in the 57th minute, and allowing Chelsea to take over the match. Sturridge might not be much of a playmaker, but he presents more problem than Divock Origi, who didn’t get to do much in the match. Lucas coming in was the final sign that Liverpool have no intention of scoring more goals, or the capability. Costa scoring in the 61st minute helped Chelsea build some pressure, but never really come close again, falling to third in the table, while Liverpool join them in the top 4, for now.
Antonio Conte needs to figure out some things with his side, and find a balance that provides creativity in the midfield while being able to help out a defensive back line that looks too vulnerable. For Liverpool, Klopp has to find ways to blend in “boring” yet effective, time-wasting football along with the exciting moments his players can produce, but can’t keep up for 90 minutes. Finding that solution will turn them from a fun-looking team to a title contender to be wary of.