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Liverpool makes a statement with 2-1 win

over Chelsea

Liverpool hasn't looked great to start the season, but Friday's 2-1 win over
Chelsea positions it well going forward


Jonathan Wilson
Friday September 16th, 2016

Going forward, Liverpool can be brilliant. At the back, it can be awful. Its the juxtaposition
of the two that makes Jurgen Klopps team difficult to judge. On Friday, a win over Chelsea
took it to ten points from five games. That's the same as Chelsea, but Liverpool has had a far
tougher start to the season.
In the first half Liverpool was excellent, its rapid thrusts thrilling. Thats one of the reasons
Klopp is so popular: when his side wins games, it does so playing football that is uplifting to
watch. But in the second half, it showed all its flaws, before, after some very nervy moments,
finding the control to see the game out.
Goals from Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson in a devastating first half had Liverpool in a
commanding position at half-time, but Diego Costa pulled one back just after the hour and, as
Liverpool rocked, it was hard to avoid the thought that the balance isnt quite right, that a

team that attacks this ferociously and defends this shakily cant ever quite be title challengers.
But on the other hand Liverpool has won away at Arsenal and drawn at Tottenham already
this season as well as beating the champion Leicester in its only home game so far. And then
theres the obvious blip of that defeat at Burnley.

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For Chelsea, the question is what on earth happened in that first half. It began appallingly
slow, pinned back by Liverpool to the extent it was barely able to escape its own half in the
opening quarter of the game. In the battle of two managers who like to press albeit that
Antonio Conte has had to temper those urges with the personnel available at Chelsea there
was no question that it was Klopps side that was imposing itself. Perhaps Contes plan was
to sit deep and draw Liverpool onto his side but even a side looking to do that has to remain
alert and Chelsea simply wasnt.
Branislav Ivanovic, looking as sluggish as he had at the beginning of last season had already
committed one spiteful foul on Adam Lallana when he gave away a freekick for a challenge
on Georgino Wijnaldum after 16 minutes. The freekick was taken short, then played back to
Philippe Coutinho, who sent an inswinging cross arcing to the back post. Chelsea, bizarrely
disorganized, had drifted en masse to the front of the box, leaving three Liverpool players
unmarked. It was Lovren who moved onto the cross and sent a smart sidefoot volley past
Thibaut Courtois. The finish was harder than Lovren made it look, but Chelseas doziness
was staggering.
Chelsea had just offered glimpses it might be getting back into the game when Liverpool
struck again. Like the first goal, the second was a combination of an excellent finish and
lackadaisical defending. Gary Cahills mishit clearance from a 36th-minute Liverpool throw
fell for Henderson and, as nobody closed him down, he measured a shot that curled and
tipped over Courtoiss outstretched arm, a fraction under the bar and a fraction inside the

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Watch: Jordan Henderson golazo helps Liverpool beat Chelsea

There was a strange lack of urgency about Chelsea, as though faced with Liverpools frenzy,
the response was a collective loss of faith. On the bench, Conte was clearly furious, pacing
about his technical area and beyond, gesticulating wildly. Nemanja Matic, his miserable form
of last season continuing (in the first half at least) looked as though he could do with another
three years at Benifca to get his form back.
David Luiz, making his first start since his return to the club on transfer deadline day, had an
awkward start, and suffered a bloodied nose when he clashed heads with Sadio Mane midway
through the first half. Of more consequence was his distribution; its usually a strength, but
here he was surprisingly erratic.
There was improvement after half-time from the home side, as there had to be, and this
Liverpool, devastating as it can be going forward, always seems vulnerable at the back. Five
games into the season, Liverpool is yet to keep a clean sheet.
The goal with which Diego Costa pulled Chelsea back into the game after 61 minutes was
dismal from a defensive point of view. Matic advanced from halfway, evading a half
challenge from Lallana and played the ball to the left to Eden Hazard. Henderson didnt track
Matics run and when the Serbian took a return pass, he skipped round an ineffectual slide
from Joel Matip and lifted the ball across goal for Diego Costa to score with a side-foot
But the expected surge never really came. There were half-chances, threats of a threat, but
nothing more and but for an fine low reaction save from Courtois the substitute Divock Origi
would have sealed it for Liverpool. In the end, it wasnt needed and Liverpool came away
with a fine victory, if not a flawless one.