LONDON — Liverpool rolled into Chelsea and pulled off a huge 2-1 win on Friday at Stamford Bridge.
First half goals from Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson did the damage as Jurgen Klopp‘s side move level on 10 points with Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea who pulled one back through Diego Costa but couldn’t find an equalizer.
Here’s what we learned from a gripping clash at Stamford Bridge.
KLOPP WINS BATTLE OF 4-1-4-1
Before this game both managers were incredible complimentary of one another. Klopp called Conte “the Guardiola of Juventus Turin” and Chelsea’s Italian manager praised Klopp’s style of play and the team he has assembled. They are two of the brightest managers in Europa as the latest battle of tactical geniuses took place on the sidelines.
Although Klopp and Conte’s philisohies are vastly different, both teams lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation on Friday
On the sidelines we expected a performance full of gusto from both Conte and Klopp. They were their heart on their sleeves and often prowl the outer reaches of their technical area like madmen. Conte was true to form but Klopp was more reserved, choosing to watch most of the game with his right hand over his mouth. His side resembled the calmer, less frenetic figure too, controlling the key area of midfield with Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum dovetailing superbly as Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho flitted in and out of midfield. Chelsea were camped in their own half in the first half and it wasn’t until Conte ditched the 4-1-4-1 that he started to get more positive results.
Conte went for at half time, switching to his famous 4-2-4 formation. It worked, initially, but then the brilliant Wijnaldum and the disciplined Henderson helped Liverpool regain control and Chelsea couldn’t find an equalizer.
All of the talk before this game was about Chelsea and Liverpool’s expectations for this season. Aside from Manchester City blowing away opponents thus far, we haven’t seen two better teams in the Premier League than these two.
Sure, Man United have won three from four and Arsenal is rebounding after a rough start but it is Liverpool who have now gone to Arsenal and Chelsea and won early in the season and Klopp’s side finally have some defensive solidity to their game with Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip forming a solid defensive partnership at the heart of their defense. Yes, both teams have inefficiencies and both of those are defensive with Chelsea’s defense going to sleep on Liverpool’s first goal and Liverpool then diving into two tackled unnecessarily as Costa got Chelsea back in the game.
There is plenty of work to do for these two teams but with 10 points from their opening five games, it is clear when all is said and done this season there will not be much between them. Given the fact both do not have European action to worry about which could heavily impact the title bids of Arsenal, Manchester United and even Man City, these two showed they have the talent to win it all if they can eradicate silly defensive errors.
LUIZ IS GOOD BUT TERRY’S INFLUENCE MISSED
David Luiz was Chelsea’s best defender on Friday. On his second debut for Chelsea following his $40 million move on transfer deadline day back to Stamford Bridge from Paris Saint-Germain, Luiz filed in for injured captain John Terry at center back. He did very, very well.
The Brazilian was positive, as ever, in possession and in the first half had to come off for some treatment after clashing heads with Sadio Mane and appearing to damage his nose badly. Luiz carried on and he carried Chelsea’s defense. On Liverpool’s opening goal the entire Chelsea defense was caught out with Gary Cahill particularly culpable as Dejan Lovren drifted off him and slotted home unmarked at the back post among a host of other Liverpool attackers. If Terry, 35, was skippering the back line there’s no way Lovren and Co. would’ve been that open. Organizational Chelsea were a mess in that situation but it wasn’t Luiz’s fault.
Luiz’s defensive capabilities have been questioned readily since his shock return to Stamford Bridge and although he is flamboyant and often overdoes it on the ball, he kept his shackles on and was easily Chelsea’s best defender on the night. There’s no doubting Chelsea missed Terry but now the big question for Conte will be who plays alongside Luiz, with Cahill perhaps the odd man out.