After The Whistle : Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool
“The beginning was brilliant — brilliant from my side. We played football like hell. It was really nice to watch”
— Jürgen Klopp
A coach describing his team’s performance to be “like hell” will typically mean the team was in shambles, and played a disastrous game. Not Jürgen Klopp. The serendipity that occurs as a result of his literal translation of words from German to English has led Klopp to be famous for a number of catchphrases. Liverpool played with a fire barely seen before, and torched Chelsea for at least sixty minutes on Friday night.
The big news arriving just before the game was the absence of Roberto Firmino from the Liverpool line up. According to reports, a groin injury prevented him from being 100% match fit, and Klopp was in no mood to take risks this early in the season with his Brazilian star. From GCR’s preview of this coming weekend game’s, Firmino was one of my players to watch due to his big game persona. His place was taken by fellow Brazilian Phillipe Coutinho. David Luiz was also making his first start since returning to Stamford Bridge.
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Liverpool were fired right from the get go, and set the tone of the game. An early attack led to Thibaut Courtois fumbling a shot from Daniel Sturridge. The Reds took the lead on seventeen minutes after imposing themselves on Chelsea at will. Ivanovic conceded one of those cynical “let-the-attacker-feel-your-presence” fouls on Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. The resulting free-kick was played short, and Coutinho whipped a delicious cross which was gleefully side footed past Courtois by Dejan Lovren. After missing the Leicester game due to a head injury, the Croat justified his return to the starting line up with a sweet finish.
Irrespective of their slick passing and impressive attacking movement, Jurgen Klopp’s men were set up equally as solid on the defensive end. Chelsea hit a brick wall whenever they got the ball to the Liverpool box, fashioning no sniff at goal. It was quite bad that N’golo Kante saw the need to take a shot from 30 yards out midway through the first half.
Chelsea were left shell shocked when Liverpool doubled their lead on thirty-six minutes. A poor clearance from Gary Cahill fell at the feet of Jordan Henderson, who thumped in wonder strike from 30 yards out. For a moment, Liverpool fans could dream Gerrard’s heir had ascended to the throne. It was a strike the L.A-Galaxy star would be proud of and duly acknowledged Hendo’s effort in an Instagram post.
The second half began with the same tempo the first half ended. Interestingly, Klopp made a tactical switch and with Sturridge being substituted for Divock Origi. It also appeared Antonio Conte had instructed Oscar to push higher up the field in support of Diego Costa. Chelsea began to grow into the game, and with a rare foray into the Liverpool box, Nemanja Matic maintained composure to pick out Diego Costa with a beautiful cut back pass from the bar line. Costa calmly finished passed Simon Mignolet just after sixty minutes. Costa was having a relatively subdued game, with the goal being his first shot on target.
Liverpool were roused awake by Costa’s goal, and the game became more stretched out with lots of end-to-end action. A triple substitution by Conte to bring on Fabregas, Moses, and Pedro proved a bit too late to salvage anything from the game.
Chelsea were handed their first defeat of the season, beaten by a very well organized Liverpool team. For Conte, it was his first defeat in a home league game since January 2013. Liverpool’s display was almost perfect. With the attacking verve and tenacity that they played with, they’ve truly announced themselves as being back to bark with the big dogs. Beating Arsenal (away), Leicester(home) and Chelsea(away) is no mean feat and they will be kicking themselves for dropping points away to Burnley.