Unlucky but much improved.
Chelsea took on Champions Liverpool on Sunday night in MW 2 of the Premier League. Klopp fielded his usual starting XI with the only difference being Gomez who was dropped for Fabinho as the Brazilian came in at centre back alongside Van Dijk. Lampard also named a similar lineup with Kepa starting in goal along with Reece James, Christensen, Zouma, and Alonso as the defenders. The trio of Jorginho, Kante, and Kovacic returned to the midfield followed by Mount and Werner who played on the wings and Havertz who played up front. A quirky lineup but one that intrigued quite a few fans.
The game for the first 45 minutes was a good match between two tactically well drilled teams. Liverpool had much of the ball for the first half but failed to cut out any clear cut chances as Chelsea’s defence stayed solid and organised under the constant press. Havertz, Werner and Mount were isolated at times but when Werner did get the ball Fabinho was able to handle the German. The problem came right before half time as an over the top ball sent Mane through on goal as Christenson was caught out, the Dane then hugged Mane to the ground with an on rushing Kepa and an initial yellow was turned to red post VAR. Chelsea went into half time a man down and with a mountain to climb against Liverpool.
The 2nd half saw Liverpool send on Thiago and the Champions were able to cut open our defence as Mane gave them the lead in the 50th minute. Kepa then made poor error as he sent a pass straight into a rushing Mane who intercepted the pass and scored to make it 0-2 in the 54th minute. Chelsea had a few chances to comeback into the game especially when Werner was brought down in the box in the 75th minute but Jorginho’s penalty was saved by Alisson. Abraham then had a chance as well but Alisson again saved from the striker. The game ended 0-2 but funnily enough there were positives to take away. Again the major one being Pulisic, Ziyech, Silva, Chilwell, and Mendy were not available. The tactics worked until the red card and even after the defensive shape was solid. Chelsea were the dominant team in the air and that could not have been said last season. We also managed to create a few chances even being a man down.
Kepa – Kepa needs time out of the starting XI, with Mendy coming in Kepa should get plenty of that. Being a goalkeeper can be an isolated affair and people always look to you when a goal goes in and Kepa was at fault for the one against Brighton Mane’s 2nd. Take time away and regain some confidence that’s the best thing for the Spaniard.
Reece James – Mane was a tough test for Reece and he did well for large parts of the game. Getting forward wasn’t really the goal for this game but defensively I feel Reece continues to improve as part of that backline.
Christenson – A good game for Christenson until the red card which was quite silly. There’s no need to make a massive deal from the situation though the Dane will continue to get better.
Zouma – Continues to be colossal at the back, Zouma was dominant aerially and really ran that defence as it stood solid for 50 minutes. A massive player for the coming season.
Alonso – The Spaniard couldn’t handle the pace of the game and my biggest issue with him was his inability to pick out a forward pass for Werner or Havertz when they made countless runs behind the Liverpool line. Chilwell incoming.
Jorginho – Jorginho was ok and the penalty miss can’t be held against him. Not much to pick out.
Kante – The Frenchman was important again as he looks to have put his injuries behind him, probably the best part of that midfield alongside Kovacic. Kante needs to improve offensively though if is to continue to get into the opposition box.
Kovacic – Kovacic was great for this game as he beat the press on countless occasions and played forward passes. The trio of Jorginho Kante and Kovacic doesnt work together but individually they have several qualities.
Mount – Mason was decent, he worked tirelessly off the ball but didn’t have the pace to handle the game in possession. The front three were also isolated for large parts which was frustrating.
Werner – Continues to show us why he is world class player. Timo worked tirelessly throughout the game to pose a threat to Liverpool and while Fabinho managed to handle him the German still made some good chances. Maybe start letting him take penalties because he deserves it.
Havertz – Again Havertz really played his secondary or 3rd position in this game as the German played up top. Havertz did well though and linked up with Werner a few times. The German will take time to adjust but the midfield is where he needs to play.
Barkley – Barkley did well when he came on and maybe he should seek regular football because he is a player who should be starting games.
Tammy – Tammy brought some more attacking intent to the front line in the final 10 minutes and he also managed to link up well with Timo. A future possibility.
Tomori – Tomori was the best of the subs as he came on at half time for Havertz and made an impact alongside Zouma. The defender handled the pressure well and also brought in some pace. Tomori needs to stay and develop as I have said countless times.
So, Chelsea suffer their first defeat of the season in slightly unfortunate circumstances but I personally felt more encouraged from our performance yesterday than I did against Brighton. Players will return from injury, they will form chemistry and develop together and the only way this team is going is up. Carefree, COME ON YOU BLUES!!!