Liverpool’s top-four hopes suffered another major blow as rivals Chelsea continued their own charge under Thomas Tuchel with a 1-0 win at Anfield.
The Blues looked the more threatening throughout a well-contested first half with Timo Werner having a strike ruled out for offside by VAR before Mason Mount struck a sublime solo goal three minutes prior to the interval.
Liverpool once again lacked creativity in attack but it was still a huge surprise to see Mo Salah, the Premier League’s leading goal scorer, withdrawn just after the hour. The Egyptian could be seen shaking his head in disappointment on the bench as his team struggled to find a way back into the contest.
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The hosts turned to substitute Diogo Jota but he could not inspire a recovery despite making a welcome return from a three-month injury lay-off.
The result means a highly impressive Chelsea, who are unbeaten in 10 matches under Tuchel, move up to fourth with Liverpool four points further back in seventh.
Jurgen Klopp’s champions can hardly afford any further slip ups when they entertain Fulham on Sunday, while Chelsea are at home to fifth-placed Everton in another key battle for the European places on Monday night.
L'esultanza di Mount, Liverpool-Chelsea
Image credit: Getty Images
Liverpool's crisis deepens as Chelsea's resurgence continues. The Anfield horror show goes on for Liverpool. This side have made so much history in recent years, but now they’ve secured a record they wouldn’t want. It’s five straight losses on home turf for the first time ever, which is an extreme contrast to the 68-game unbeaten league run in L4 that preceded the losing streak.
It of course means they are now facing up to the very real prospect of missing out on a top four berth unless they can markedly improve their fortunes. There are just 11 league fixtures left for Klopp and Co and they need to turn the corner pronto. In their favour, is the fact just five points separate eighth-placed Spurs and Chelsea in fourth, but a number of their rivals have played a game less.
There was also the mid-match sub-plot of Salah being replaced with Liverpool in desperate need of a goal. The Egyptian’s agent posted a cryptic tweet in response and you wonder what will be said in the hours and days to come regarding that situation.
Liverpool’s woes are clear, but Chelsea deserve huge credit for taking advantage of the Merseysiders’ weaknesses. Tuchel brilliantly outfoxed Klopp in the tactical duel with his first away win at the eighth time of asking when locking horns with his compatriot. Indeed, the former PSG boss is enjoying a wonderful start to life at the Bridge with seven wins from 10 undefeated matches so far. The Blues continually exposed Liverpool’s high line and easily dealt with the famed front trio who simply just aren’t clicking in 2021. Chelsea are now just four points off second-placed Manchester United and could well be looking to finish with a flourish rather than glancing anxiously over their shoulder in the scrap to claim a top four berth.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mason Mount (Chelsea). The Chelsea defence deserve great credit for providing the platform for this victory, but it was Mount’s magic that settled it. The midfielder continues to see his stock rise and despite owing much to Frank Lampard for showing faith in him, he is clearly revelling under the tutelage of Tuchel now.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 7, Fabinho 6, Kabak 6, Robertson 7, Wijnaldum 6, Jones 6, Thiago 6, Mane 6, Firmino 6, Salah 6. Subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain 5, Jota 6, Milner 5.
CHELSEA: Mendy 7, Azpilicueta 8, Christensen 8, Rudiger 8, James 7, Chilwell 7, Jorginho 7, Kante 8, Ziyech 7, Mount 8, Werner 7. Subs: Pulisic 6, Kovacic n/a, Havertz n/a.
Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary
Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary
17’ – CHELSEA CHANCE! Thiago can't leap high enough to reach a flick over the top from Azpilicueta and it leaves Werner clear in the area. However, the German forward snatches at his shot despite being in acres of space and hits it straight at Alisson. That’s a big, big let off for the hosts.
24’ – CHELSEA GOAL CHALKED OFF! Werner races on to a long ball over the top, evades the frantic charge of Alisson and beats Kabak to the loose ball to tap into an empty net. It’s exactly why Tuchel drafted him to beat the high line – but VAR checks and rules it out for offside. That is ever so tight!
42’ - GOAL! – Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea. Mount surges on to Kante's ball over the top. He jinks in from the left and rifles a wonderful right-foot shot into the far corner.
54’ – CHELSEA CHANCE! Chelsea carve the hosts open once more. Ziyech gets his shot beyond Alisson but Robertson is well placed to hack it off the line.
77’ – CHELSEA CHANCE! Chelsea spring forward and almost seal the game. Mount drifts in from the left and teases a pass towards the run of Werner, but the Blues striker can't clip his shot beyond the advancing Alisson. Good stop from the Brazilian.
- All five of Mason Mount's Premier League goals this season have come away from home; he's scored three goals in eight league games under Thomas Tuchel, compared to two in 18 under Frank Lampard this season.
- Georginio Wijnaldum's 85th minute header was Liverpool's first shot on target in this match, their longest wait for a shot on target in a Premier League home game since May 2010 (90th minute, also vs Chelsea).
- Only Manchester City (24) have earned more points than Chelsea (18) since Thomas Tuchel took over eight games ago; Frank Lampard earned only seven points from his final eight games in charge.
- Liverpool have earned just 10 points from 11 Premier League games in 2021, with only West Brom (nine), Newcastle (seven) and Southampton (four) picking up fewer points since the turn of the year.
- Édouard Mendy has kept 12 clean sheets in 22 Premier League starts (55%); of the 210 goalkeepers to have started at least 10 games in the competition, he is the only one to keep a clean sheet in over half.
Klopp: Alexander-Arnold was outstanding - he was already brilliant when I got him
Tuchel: Havertz has absolute quality but could have scored more