Liverpool make it 15 Premier League wins in a row with victory at Chelsea
Jurgen Klopp's side maintain their 100 per cent record this season with battling three points at Stamford Bridge
Liverpool’s 100 per cent start to the Premier League season ended at Stamford Bridge. It did in 2018, anyway. History did not repeat itself 12 months later as the leaders found a way of improving upon a 97-point campaign.
A 15th consecutive league win, capped by two well-worked free kicks, felt planned on the Melwood training pitches.
It had taken Liverpool 120 minutes and penalties to overcome Chelsea in the Super Cup. This had a different sort of dramatic ending as the Londoners applied pressure.
The unmarked substitute Michy Batshuayi headed wide, Mason Mount blazed over and Joel Matip defended valiantly, but the early goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino left Frank Lampard still looking for a first win as a manager at Stamford Bridge.
He has now suffered successive defeats but Liverpool responded well to their loss against Napoli.
Jurgen Klopp had been surprised that his side had only won one of their previous 12 away league games at big-six rivals. They rectified that in forceful fashion. Two of Liverpool’s stand-out players this season scored. This was another indication of their potency.
Not since Manchester United six decades ago has a team scored two or more goals in 15 successive top-flight games.
Liverpool showed imagination and excellent execution for both goals. For the opener, Mohamed Salah back-heeled a free kick to Alexander-Arnold. He bent his shot around Jorginho and into the Chelsea net. It is a sign of the right-back’s technical excellence that a set-piece was devised to allow a man with only two previous league goals to shoot.
Firmino is a more frequent scorer but, perhaps surprisingly, had never previously struck against Chelsea. He came of age as a Liverpool player at Stamford Bridge four years ago, when Klopp first deployed him as a false nine.
On his return, he scored a typical striker’s goal, heading in Andy Robertson’s centre. Chelsea’s zonal-marking system failed, with Firmino afforded too much room.
It came after Chelsea twice threatened, and once celebrated, an equaliser. Liverpool were unlocked by a defence-splitting pass from Andreas Christensen to send Tammy Abraham clear.
An eighth goal in four league games beckoned but the impressive Adrian made a fine save. Having denied the striker in the Super Cup shootout, he won a second duel.
Abraham was lively, offering a focal point in attack but Cesar Azpilicueta was the first to find the Liverpool net.
The Chelsea captain had finished after a bout of penalty-box pinball but VAR proved Mount had been offside in the build-up.
It was the fourth goal VAR had ruled out for offside over the weekend and if Chelsea were initially relieved Mount had been passed fit, they may have rued his presence for a moment.
The pendulum swung quickly in the opposite direction, with Firmino scoring three minutes later.
Thereafter, Kepa Arrizabalaga made a fine save from Firmino’s volley and Sadio Mane headed over. That inability to add a third goal could have cost Liverpool as Chelsea forged a comeback.
N’Golo Kante had been outstanding in the Super Cup and much missed in a month on the sidelines. His energy had an impact on his return, although his goal had a rarity value.
The Frenchman became more prolific last season when Maurizio Sarri granted him a more advanced role, but he rarely struck from 20 yards. This was an unusual effort, just as it was uncharacteristic that Liverpool backed off him to such an extent.
It did feel typical for Lampard, though, that as Kante and Mount were unexpected inclusions in the side, he lost two more players.
His reign has been undermined by injuries and while he had reverted to a back four, two of his revamped defence did not even last until half-time as first Emerson Palmieri and then Christensen limped off.
Chelsea’s spirited response in adversity was to their credit but Liverpool procured the points. It is 18 out of a possible 18 for them this season.
Updated: September 22, 2019 10:23 PM