It was a battle of two of the most charismatic managers on the touchlines with Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp facing off against each other. Despite their lofty league position, Chelsea were dominated by Liverpool’s high pressing style and for most parts, Blues could not live with the pass-and-move play from The Reds.
Antonio Conte is yet to transform Chelsea in to a solid defensive unit and it was a weak moment at the back from the Blues which saw Dejan Lovren find himself in acre of space on the far post to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead.
Jordan Henderson soon doubled the lead for his team with perhaps the best goal of the season so far. Liverpool then took control of the match while Chelsea struggled to carve out any goal-scoring chance until Diego Costa’s acrobatic strike in the second half.
Costa pulled one back for Chelsea but it was not enough as they suffered their first defeat of the season. Here are the key talking points and things learned from Liverpool’s commanding 2-1 win over Chelsea.
Liverpool are not messing about this season
For best part of last season under Klopp, Liverpool showed moments of brilliance coupled with a great deal of inconsistency. However there is a different tone about their play this season which is sweeping teams aside in Premier League.
Summer signings Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Joel Matip have gelled in well and with Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino’s presence in the starting XI, Liverpool look like one of the early season contenders to fight for the league title.
Chelsea need a passer in their midfield
For all the tenaciousness and steel in his team, Conte might want to include a player who can actually pass the ball. Conte has opted to start with Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante in his midfield leaving out Cesc Fabregas, which has really hurt Chelsea’s play going forward.
Players like Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Willian need someone to find them at regular intervals which is not happening with Kante and Matic in midfield. Fabregas showed his value to this Chelsea side when he came on for the final 10 minutes and that was the time when Chelsea were at their most dangerous in the entire match.
Luiz is not the answer to Chelsea’s defense
David Luiz was brought by Chelsea to possibly takeover the reigns from John Terry at the heart of Chelsea’s defense. However, his presence against Liverpool reminded everyone of what Chelsea are lacking at the moment – A leader at the back.
Luiz was once again reckless in his tackles and his lack of aerial assurance saw Lovren pull back on the far post to give Liverpool a lead. If his first game was anything to go by, Luiz is not the answer to Chelsea’s defense and I do not see him play regularly under Conte.
Sturridge is yet to convince Klopp
Daniel Sturridge was lucky to get a start in the lineup vs Chelsea as Roberto Firmino was injured just hours before the kick off. Sturridge was then hooked off in favor of Divock Origi further signalling how far is he in the pecking order in terms of being Liverpool’s first choice number 9.
Going by the recent team selections from Klopp, I am convinced that Mane-Coutinho-Firmino will be Liverpool’s first choice forward line for most of the matches this season, well certainly for the crucial ones at least making it difficult for Sturridge to break in to the starting XI.
One must feel for Conte
Antonio Conte arrived with a huge reputation at Chelsea but it has not been a steady start for the Italian. Chelsea have won couple of matches by scoring in the final 5-10 minutes but the defeat against Liverpool revealed more damning lack of quality Conte has been handed at Stamford Bridge.
Conte was given a broken squad who finished 10th last season and in terms of summer transfers, it was a rather forgettable experience for Conte. Chelsea failed to sign Conte’s top 3 defensive choices (Koulibaly, Bonucci, Romagnoli) and then he was forced to work with a defensive liability David Luiz.
Conte has failed to implement his favored 3-5-2 system as well due to the lack of right players at Chelsea at the moment. Yes it has been a difficult start for Conte in Premier League but one must sympathize with the Italian for the sheer lack control he currently has at his new club.