Chelsea went to Liverpool to take on last season’s champions and came away with three well-deserved points. It was a revelation of tough, ‘grind it out’ football from Thomas Tuchel’s side. Maybe is wasn’t the most beautiful game from the Blues, but it was certainly a beautiful result. It was by the slimmest of margins, but a win is a win is a win—and this was a big victory, make no mistake about it.
Chelsea is now in the top four for the time being and this performance showed the Blues can certainly hang with the big boys at the moment. Here are a few quick takeaways from the victory at Anfield:
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The problems seemed immediate with Thomas Tuchel’s line-up that included Mason Mount starting on the left-wing—not his optimum spot—and Jorginho partnering in midfield with N’Golo Kante. Jorginho’s selection, instead of the far more versatile and productive Mateo Kovacic, raised some eyebrows. In addition, Olivier Giroud was on the bench. Giroud should have started this one with Timo Werner on the left. The overall line-up gave some supporters a queasy feeling for the match from the outset.
Liverpool was the far better side in the first 10 minutes with little generated by Chelsea. Two missed opportunities by Werner were the only early lights for the Blues. Generally, Chelsea’s effort at the start was poor and the Liverpool tactics were clearly better. Mount’s misplacement did nothing to ameliorate that situation. Then, the breakthrough ostensibly happened when Werner’s pace emerged on the end of a wonderful long pass from Jorginho and he tallied a goal, that of course, was called back for offside. The German can’t catch a single break, who knows why, but he needs one.
At that point, a positive result seemed well beyond possibility. The frustration level for the Blues had to be through the roof after the Werner goal was called back, but it was clear by the middle of the first half that Chelsea’s tactics were working. At roughly the 40′ mark, at the end of a wonderful Kante pass, Mount maneuvered inside and finished his fifth goal in the Premier League.
Finally, finally, the breakthrough.
A win against Liverpool at Anfield is a great win anytime. Yet, it still seems terribly clear that the use of wingbacks is impeding the ability of Chelsea’s wingers to get more involved in matches. Ziyech, who is a masterful outside winger, failed to have a large impact on the match overall. The formation does not seem to maximize the abilities of the wingers, Mount’s excellent goal notwithstanding.
Overall, it was a great game and a fantastic win. The effort and performance from the Blues was fantastic all around. Mount continues to be Chelsea’s best player and the can’t miss Player of the Year. However, finding his best and most productive position (though he seems pretty productive anywhere, does he not?) will propel this team toward the top. Werner is getting chances all the time, but still struggling to tuck balls away. Here’s to hoping his bad luck will turn. Regardless, he played great against Liverpool. One thing that was abundantly clear in this game—maybe for the first game all season—is that the Blues played a total game for the full 90+ minutes. No let-up, no downturns, no diminution of effort, none of it. It was a complete victory against a top side—it doesn’t get much better than that.
What are some takeaways you had from the match? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!