Liverpool retained their five-point lead at the top of the table as they became the first team to win their opening six Premier League games in successive seasons with a fiercely-fought victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Jurgen Klopp’s title pace-setters looked on course to win in comfort as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s magnificent free-kick and Roberto Firmino’s header gave them complete control at the interval.
Chelsea, who had been denied an equaliser when Cesar Azpilicueta’s close-range effort was ruled out for offside by VAR, were in no mood to capitulate and made Liverpool fight every inch of the way to maintain that perfect record.
Tammy Abraham had chances to increase his tally of seven goals this season, particularly when he was denied by Liverpool keeper Adrian when clean through in the first half, but it was left to N’Golo Kante to set up a grandstand finish with a superb strike with 19 minutes to play.
Liverpool, however, held on, surviving missed chances from Michy Batshuayi and Mason Mount, to produce an instant response to Manchester City’s 8-0 win over Watford on Saturday.
Liverpool bandwagon rolls on
Liverpool remain unstoppable in their Premier League duel with Manchester City after one of those victories all potential champions will need to secure if they are to claim the big prize at the end of the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have made a habit of unleashing an attacking blitz on opponents in a remarkable run of only one league loss since the start of last season, their winning sequence now extended to 15 games.
This was totally different.
Liverpool may have looked to have been on cruise control with that interval advantage, but Chelsea were always in this game and pressed the league leaders right until the final whistle.
They were far below their best, were more sloppy than usual and on occasions looked jaded – but they still emerged victorious from what is traditionally one of the most hazardous away assignments on the calendar.
Over the course of a long campaign, a season Liverpool will hope will end their 30-year wait for the title, it is victories on days such as this that will be vital, if not more so, than the days when opponents are blown away.
Klopp’s delight at the final whistle, in contrast to some of his expressions of fury during the game, said it all.
This was a crucial victory. Liverpool’s bandwagon rolls on.
Chelsea and Lampard can take heart
Chelsea have still to win at home in the Premier League and Champions League this season, and no defeat by Liverpool is anything other than an acutely painful experience.
And yet, despite this loss coming hard on the heels of the home loss to Valencia in their opening Champions League group game, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard will take great comfort and confidence from the performance of his team.
This is a new Chelsea, leaning heavily on youngsters such as Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Abraham, and being built in a new style by Lampard.
When Liverpool went two up through Firmino’s header after poor marking at a free-kick, the goal coming moments after Azpilicueta’s apparent equaliser had been overruled by VAR, it would have been easy for Chelsea’s heads to drop.
Nothing could have been further from the truth as they pressed and pressurised Liverpool until the final whistle before receiving a warm and appreciative ovation from the Chelsea supporters.
Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga may have kept them in it with a magnificent save from Firmino but Chelsea, driven by the magnificent Kante, were left cursing those late missed opportunities for Batshuayi and Mount that could have earned them a point.
No Chelsea defeat is easy to take, especially against Liverpool, but this was a performance that will give Lampard hope and encouragement.
We have to carry on – what they said
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “The first half was hard work. It is about momentum in games like this and I think we got that in the first half. We scored two wonderful goals and we could have scored directly after half time two more. We deserved the three points, it is difficult to win here.”
“We are only here. Chelsea, six matches in. We haven’t won anything domestic apart from games so we have to carry on. We have to be ready for each opponent. They are all waiting and want to give us a knock, rightly so, but we have to be ready to do what we have to do.”
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard: “Performance-wise we were the better team. We had more energy in our game, character and spirit. That’s why the crowd applauded at the end. Let’s take this forward.”
On VAR: “We have to get on with it. It is a sad thing for the celebration and the moment but if we are looking for correct decisions that is where we are at. It changes the atmosphere in the crowd, on the pitch. We are slightly deflated and they get a boost. We deserved to be level at that point.”
Reds closing in on City’s record – the stats
- Chelsea have conceded 13 goals in their six Premier League matches this season – their most after six league matches of a season since 1978-79 (also 13), when they went on to finish bottom of the First Division.
- Liverpool have won consecutive Premier League matches against Chelsea for the first time since a run of four wins between November 2010 and May 2012.
- Liverpool have won their last 15 league matches – the only team with a longer winning run in top-flight history is Manchester City (18 between August and December 2017).
- Chelsea have lost consecutive home matches in all competitions for the first time since April 2014, when they lost against Sunderland and Atlético Madrid.
- Jurgen Klopp managed his 150th Premier League game today – he has registered 92 wins in those games, with only José Mourinho (105) winning more in his first 150 matches in the competition.
- Frank Lampard is only the second Chelsea manager to fail to win any of his first four home matches in all competitions (W0 D2 L2), after Bobby Campbell in 1988.
- Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Liverpool have scored 34 goals from set-piece situations in the Premier League – seven more than any other team.
- Chelsea have failed to win any of their opening three home Premier League matches in a season for only the second time, also doing so in 2001-02 during Frank Lampard’s first season there as a player.
Attention turns to the League Cup as Liverpool head to League One side MK Dons on Wednesday (19:45 BST), while Chelsea host League Two Grimsby on the same day (19:45 BST).