Liverpool’s 2-1 win on Sunday over Chelsea maintained the league leader’s perfect start to the season, but they left Stamford Bridge knowing that they were in a match.
Two first-half goals from set pieces, two injuries to defenders, and an intervention from VAR proved too much for Chelsea to overcome in the second half. Despite constant pressure and a highlight-reel goal from N’Golo Kante, Chelsea still remain winless at Stamford Bridge this season, simply highlighting the task that’s in front of Frank Lampard.
But Chelsea did their best, and much like in the Super Cup, they gave Liverpool plenty to worry about. But it was Liverpool that had the better start.
After Andreas Christensen gave away a free kick just on the edge of the area, Mohamed Salah cleverly rolled the ball wide to change the angle for Trent Alexander-Arnold to thump past a diving Kepa Arrizabalaga from about 20 yards out.
Things didn’t get much better from that point on in the first half. Emerson made his first start since his hamstring injury while away on international duty, and he suffered a recurrence of that injury and had to be subbed off after 15 minutes.
Tammy Abraham had a chance to equalise when Christensen found him with a clever through ball that put him one-on-one with Adrian. But the Liverpool keeper closed down the shooting angle and was able to save with his body.
VAR decided it was going to have a say in the match. Cesar Azpilicueta thought he scored the equaliser when he bundled a bouncing ball over the line after some good work from Willian and Mason Mount, only to see VAR rule it out for offside in the build-up. Replays showed that Mount was just barely offside earlier in the attack, and VAR ruled no goal.
VAR’s intervention proved a vital one, as moments later, Roberto Firmino scored Liverpool’s second from a set piece. Andy Robertson’s floated free kick found Firmino unmarked in the penalty area, and the striker simply needed to guide his header into the net.
Christensen forced Chelsea into a second substitution in the first half after a collision with Fikayo Tomori left him hobbling around and unable to continue.
Chelsea’s malaise continued into the second half, but a string of saves from Arrizabalaga kept them in the match.
First, Liverpool nearly scored from another set piece when the initial header was cleared back to Alexander-Arnold. His floated cross back into the box found Firmino unmarked from about six yards out, but Arrizabalaga was able to get a hand on it and deflect Firmino’s volley wide.
Then Arrizabalaga made another fantastic reaction save after a shot hit Azpilicueta and ricocheted towards goal, but it likely wouldn’t have counted because Alexander-Arnold was offside in the build-up.
Kante gave Chelsea hope with his 71st minute goal. Proving that he’s become a complete midfielder, he shuffled past Fabinho and with three defenders closing in, shifted the ball to his right foot and curled a magnificent shot into the top corner past Adrian.
Michy Batshuayi should have had Chelsea’s second in the 87th minute when he found himself completely unmarked in the Liverpool area but could only flick his header wide of the goal.
Mount had one last chance for Chelsea in stoppage time when he found space in the Liverpool area. Marcos Alonso’s cross was good, but Mount couldn’t get his body in the right position, and his side-footed effort was wide of the near post.