Liverpool built a two-goal lead, then rode its luck to keep its perfect season alive.
Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold scored first half goals as the Reds beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
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N’Golo Kante scored a sensational goal to bring the Blues within one, but Chelsea couldn’t finish several terrific opportunities to tie the match.
Now 6-0, the Reds restored their five-point lead over second place Man City, while the Blues sit 12th with eight points.
The main takeaways
1. Alexander-Arnold at both ends: TAA’s exceptional work in the attacking third is nothing new, and it says something that it comes as little surprise when he produces something sublime like the opening goal off a set piece, but Alexander-Arnold’s goal line clearance in the 68th minute adding some icing to the cake as Chelsea looked pull a goal back from its 2-0 deficit. A fine performance from the right back.
2. Liverpool gets big let-off: Liverpool’s defending and passing was poor over the final 30 minutes or so, and if the Reds have something resembling a weakness it is their overall back line when the opposition is in the Liverpool half. Michy Batshuayi and Mason Mount should’ve both troubled Adrian in the latter stages, but were let off the hook by a Chelsea team with only one sub available to it after the break. More on that below.
3. Bats, not the Yank: Frank Lampard opted against starting Christian Pulisic again on Sunday, and two defensive subs in the first 42 minutes meant there was only one left for the second half. Lampard chose target forward Michy Batshuayi over Pulisic, Ross Barkley, and Pedro. Batshuayi drew a free kick upon introduction, and coudn’t flash an opener header on frame in the 88th.
Man of the Match: Firmino, whose steady presence, strong dribbling, and — most importantly — powerful header steadied the match for a time, moments after VAR denied the Blues an equalizer.
Honorable mention: Kante was everywhere, stopping Mohamed Salah‘s long dribble toward goal late as a highlight. Another highlight, this. See ya later Fabinho.
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A foul-heavy, physical start yielded a free kick atop the Chelsea 18 after Andreas Christensen got tangled with Sadio Mane.
A training ground play had Salah roll a shot pass for Alexander-Arnold to belt past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 15th minute.
An injury to Emerson Palmieri then introduced Marcos Alonso to the match, a 16th minute substitution adding insult to the, well, you know.
Adrian saved Tammy Abraham‘s 1v1 chance in the 24th minute, a misstep from the youngster and great moment for Liverpool’s No. 2 backstop.
Azpilicueta looked to have leveled when he mopped up a sloppy final third performance from the Reds celebrated back line, but VAR ruled Mason Mount as offside.
Liverpool then made it 2-0, adding insult to insult, when unmarked Firmino hammered a header into the goal.
A calamitous first half continued with Christensen waylaid by an injury, as he subbed off for Kurt Zouma. Forty-two minutes in, two subs down.
The game could’ve been effectively put to bed on a 46th minute set piece, but Virgil Van Dijk‘s back post effort tame and allowed Arrizabalaga to make a fine save.
Chelsea found some footing in the second half, and Liverpool was cautioned for time wasting. N’Golo Kante dragged a shot wide in the 59th minute.
Kante was the next man on the score sheet, turning Fabinho and dribbling free into the 18 to blasting a 71st minute effort past Adrian. Game on.
But Batshuayi couldn’t flash a late header on goal, and Mason Mount butchered a difficult near-post chance to make it 2-2 late. Liverpool escaped, and is starting to feel a bit like the dreaded term: Team of Destiny.