They hung on even when N’Golo Kante got a deserved one back for Chelsea in the second-half, but if it wasn’t always pretty, it was hugely admirable. There is a good, young team waiting to break lose under Frank Lampard and Liverpool needed all of their famed energy to keep them at bay. And it is for good reason that Klopp insists on intensity.
The one time Fabinho delegated to his team-mates, rather than taking it upon himself to close Kante down, the Chelsea man dribbled into the box and struck a low shot that brought Chelsea back into the game. It was no more than they deserved, to at least muster a close finish.
Chelsea are a long way behind Liverpool in terms of experience these days, meaning the result was hardly surprising – but there was no shame in defeat. Liverpool are five points clear for many reasons – and a lot of them were on display on Sunday afternoon. Tenacity, tight defending, courage, excellent finishing. This was the perfect response to their blip against Napoli last week – the continuation of a domestic run that is as hard fought as it is impressive.
It was not Chelsea’s day, injuries, VAR and their own failings conspiring against them in the first half. They could have led Liverpool 2-1 after 27 minutes, instead 30 minutes in they found themselves trailing by two goals and – against a team in Liverpool’s nick – close to out of the game.
Jurgen Klopp’s team were trying to be the first to win their opening six league games in consecutive seasons, having already established a club record sequence of clubs wins. Against opposition like that, Frank Lampard needed all the help he could get. He got none.
Chelsea were architects of their own downfall, sure. But the odd break that can get a team back into the game went against them. Still, it’s what we all wanted, these marginal VAR calls, yes? Actually, no. We wanted travesties, clear and obvious mistakes corrected, not infringements measured by slide rule that cause dramatic, random momentum swings.
So in that respect Chelsea were unlucky. Yet they were also rash against a team that needs no assistance. Liverpool – ten minutes in Naples aside – have been close to flawless this season. Chelsea are callow and raw. It was hardly a surprise that they were made to pay, in those circumstances.