LONDON. — Liverpool delivered a powerful statement of intent about their desire to retain the Premier League title with a comfortable dismissal of Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on another nightmare day for keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga yesterday.
Jurgen Klopp’s champions were already in complete control even before Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen was correctly shown a red card on the stroke of half-time. Referee Paul Tierney initially opted for a yellow card but reviewed Christensen’s desperate challenge on Sadio Mane as he raced on to Jordan Henderson’s pass. Mane then punished Chelsea with two swift goals after the break to confirm Liverpool’s vast superiority, the second of which was the result of another calamity for Kepa.
Mane headed in Roberto Firmino’s cross after 50 minutes then chased down Kepa, whose botched clearance gave the striker the simplest of finishes.
Chelsea’s day of misery was complete when Jorginho, normally so reliable from the spot, saw his penalty saved by Alisson after Liverpool’s new £20m signing Thiago Alcantara, on as a half-time substitute, brought down Timo Werner.
Liverpool were helped by Christensen’s moment of sheer panic that reduced Chelsea to 10 men right on the break — but they were head and shoulders ahead of a negative home team even before that crucial moment.
The champions dominated from the first whistle and it seemed only a matter of time before they scored, pinning Chelsea back in their own territory and probing for openings at will.
And when the breakthrough came, no-one deserved it more than Mane, now comfortable in world-class and willing to do the dirty work as well as apply the finishing touches.
Mane’s first goal was a superb header but in many ways he summed up what makes him the complete attacker with his second, reacting with fury at giving the ball away before chasing down Kepa.
The Senegal forward’s pace forced the error from a goalkeeper who does not necessarily need forcing into errors and effectively finished the contest with Liverpool’s second.
It was all so easy for Liverpool after that, Thiago easing his way in as a substitute although there will be a concern about yet another injury for captain Henderson, who went off at half-time. This was a brutal reality check for Chelsea after a summer of big spending by manager Frank Lampard – and surely the final flawed contribution from error-ridden keeper Kepa.
Chelsea’s gameplan appeared to be to sit back and attempt to catch Liverpool on the break with Werner’s pace but in the end it was all too passive, the home team resembling a side that would have been happy with a point. — BBCSport.