Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool tenure gets lift-off as the Reds deservedly beat rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge…
Roberto Firmino‘s impressive showing in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night earned him a start, at the expense of Divock Origi, as Jürgen Klopp made one change to the team that drew 1-1 with Southampton last weekend.
The exciting former Hoffenheim attacker was heavily involved early on but dragged a decent opening wide from the edge of the area after Liverpool’s quick pressing had won the ball in midfield.
The visitors fell behind shortly afterwards when Ramires headed home a deflected Cesar Azpilicueta cross.
Defensively it wasn’t great from a Liverpool perspective as Chelsea beat them far too easily down the right and left-back Alberto Moreno failed to react sufficiently to halt Ramires’ burst forward.
It could have got worse for Klopp’s men inside the opening 10 minutes as they struggled to deal with a series of set-pieces and continually gave the ball away cheaply.
Things gradually improved for the men in red as they started to gain possession in more advanced areas but, as per usual this season, they were lacking a consistent goal threat.
Former Southampton pair, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana, did both try their luck but only Lallana’s effort required any involvement from Asmir Begovic in the home goal.
Liverpool were dominating as the game approached the half hour mark and Begovic was again called into action when Lallana got on the end of a James Milner cross.
Lucas Leiva also found the target with a header after somehow getting the better of Kurt Zouma in the air but, in truth, neither side was creating anything clear cut.
That changed in first half stoppage time when a neat passing move by Liverpool was rounded off beautifully by a curling, left-footed effort from Philippe Coutinho that nestled into the far corner.
It was the playmaker’s first goal since the opening day and it deservedly sent the Merseysiders into the break level.
Chelsea were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half but it was short lived as the out-of-sorts reigning champions began to drop deeper and deeper and invite Liverpool onto them.
There was a nervousness about the hosts and the visitors sensed it; winning tackles, being the first to second balls and generally taking the game to the men in blue.
As the hour mark approached, Jose Mourinho made the bold decision to replace Eden Hazard with Brazilian youth international Kenedy.
It coincided with a marked improvement but a blocked effort from Ramires was as close as Chelsea came to working Simon Mignolet.
Diego Costa and Martin Skrtel had their customary spat shortly beforehand and the striker would have been in serious trouble had referee Mark Clattenburg seen him kick-out as the pair fell to the floor.
Other than a Lallana effort that went well wide, Liverpool were doing less going forward now and Klopp unsurprisingly sent Christian Benteke on at the expense of Milner.
The Reds could also have been a man down in the 68th minute when Lucas was lucky to get away with a second yellow card for a foul on Ramires.
An ambitious effort from close to the halfway line from Oscar had Mignolet scrambling across his goal as the hosts enjoyed a rare spell of danger.
It was Liverpool who struck next though when Coutinho fired home via a deflection off John Terry following a brilliant Benteke knock-down.
Moreno could have stretched the lead with 15 minutes to go but the Spaniard was denied by an outstretched Begovic leg after his pace had opened up Chelsea on the counter.
The Londoners were committing plenty of men forward – Radamel Falcao had been introduced to play alongside Costa – but they were almost picked off again on the break, this time by Jordan Ibe.
A third Liverpool goal seemed increasingly inevitable and it came in the 83rd minute when Benteke was given far too much time and space to register his fourth goal since arriving from Aston Villa for £32.5m.
The final few minutes were played out against the backdrop of home fans heading for the exits and strains of ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’ from the vociferous travelling support.
A thoroughly deserved three points which are made all the sweeter by the extra pressure they pile on old foe Mourinho. Liverpool were the better side for long periods and the way we overcome the early setback of going behind was brilliant and would not have happened pre-Klopp in the past 18 months. We had twice as many shots, over three times as many shots on target and totally bossed possession, all away from home against the reigning champions. Every player was committed to the cause and increasingly, as the inspirational German settles and gets his ideas across, they are starting to express themselves and show greater ambition as an attacking unit. Today’s performance points to good times ahead and leaves everyone connected with the club with a warm glow.
Philippe Coutinho – Back to form with a bang after a series of under par showings. Coutinho’s first strike was exquisite and he allied his brilliant technique and awareness with the tenacity and work-rate that Klopp insists upon.
Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Milner (c) (Benteke 64′), Lallana (Lovren 91′), Coutinho, Firmino (76′).
Unused subs: Bogdan, Randall, Allen, Teixeira.
So that’s what we thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your verdict below or vote in our MOTM poll to the right…
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