Friday, January 28

Chelsea’s Mount condemns Liverpool to historic fifth consecutive defeat at Anfield | Premier league


Liverpool have created history and achieved many milestones with Jürgen Klopp, but this will be very important. For the first time in its 129 years of existence, the club suffered a fifth consecutive defeat at Anfield as Chelsea took a significant step towards qualifying for the Champions League at the expense of the fallen Premier League champions.

They may need another miracle in Istanbul, the scene of this season’s finale, to rejoin the European elite next season.

Mason Mount’s exquisite finish shortly before the break sustained Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten streak as Chelsea manager and sealed a well-deserved and potentially priceless victory. Only a bad shot, a marginal VAR decision and a clearance from the goal line prevented the visitors from winning more comfortably.

When Liverpool belatedly improved in the second half, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rüdiger and the rest of the Chelsea defense stood their ground. Edouard Mendy, the Chelsea goalkeeper, was the exception, albeit only by being underemployed all night. He made a routine save in the 85th minute for Georginio Wijnaldum. It was Liverpool’s first shot on goal.

Klopp became embroiled in a heated argument with the fourth official after the final whistle. It could only have focused on the refusal of the referees to consider N’Golo Kanté’s handball within the Chelsea area early in the second half as, overall, Liverpool could have no complaints about the result. The hosts worked at all times, were regularly caught playing a defensive high line and, in keeping with their ignominious home run, were unable to turn a promising possession into a genuine opportunity in front of goal. Mohamed Salah reflected the lack of energy and inventiveness on the pitch as well as Liverpool’s state of mind when he reacted angrily to his first career substitution at Anfield. Salah kicked a box of water as he walked past Klopp before frowning on the bench for the final 28 minutes. Diogo Jota made a welcome return as a substitute after three months on the sidelines with a knee injury, but was unable to inject the spark or threat that Liverpool have lost in his absence.

Chelsea, confident in defense and clear in their plan to hurt the locals, always carried the greatest threat and the spirited Timo Werner had to reward him before the break. The 53 million pound forward deftly controlled Ben Chilwell’s long ball to create his first start, which went over Alisson’s crossbar from the edge of the area. The Liverpool goalkeeper had declared himself available after the tragic death of his father last week.

That opportunity was tough, but there were no excuses when Werner failed to convert Cesar Azpilicueta’s overhead shot into Liverpool’s area. With Thiago Alcântara unable to intercept the defender’s center and Ozan Kabak playing Werner on the flank, the forward only had Alisson to beat from six yards. To Tuchel’s audible desperation, he reached for the high ball and directed a tamed balloon straight into the grateful goalkeeper’s grasp.

Mason Mount scores the only goal of the game.
Mason Mount scores the only goal of the game. Photograph: Phil Noble / AP

He looked lucky for the third time for the German international when Jorginho exposed Liverpool’s high line with a long ball over Fabinho. Werner ran clear, hitting the ball past Alisson’s advance and then into the net under pressure from Kabak.

Both teams were in position for the restart when the destination of the VAR was signaled. His forensic team found that Werner’s shoulder was slightly ahead of Andy Robertson’s foot when the ball was played and Liverpool were pardoned. But only temporarily.

For a period after Werner’s disallowed goal, there was more urgency and invention about the hosts. Sadio Mané had an excellent opportunity when Trent Alexander-Arnold unleashed him behind the Chelsea defense with a glorious ball from deep, but completely ruined his goal attempt and Mendy recovered with ease.

That was Liverpool’s only opening of the first half. His high line continued to invite Chelsea to drop balls overhead and was ultimately punished when Kanté, in possession after Azpilicueta intercepted a Roberto Firmino cross, sprayed a pass to Mount running into the space left by Alexander-Arnold. The 22-year-old’s intention was clear as he attacked the Liverpool area and easily circled Fabinho before making a perfect shot into the far bottom corner. It wasn’t more than Chelsea deserved.

Liverpool’s passing and movement improved in the second half, they had to, and they were denied a penalty for what seemed like a clear hand from Kanté as Firmino’s chip inside the box struck his raised right arm. Referee Martin Atkinson, a late replacement for self-isolator Craig Pawson, was unaffected by Liverpool’s appeals and the VAR did not intervene. Firmino’s proximity to Kanté may have saved Chelsea, but let’s be honest, who knows more?

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Robertson prevented Hakim Ziyech from doubling Chelsea’s lead when Alisson blocked Chilwell’s shot and the rebound landed on the former Ajax winger, whose low effort was cleared off the line. Klopp introduced Jota and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Salah and Curtis Jones, but to no avail; just more trouble in the form of an unwanted piece of Liverpool history and a sulking star.


www.theguardian.com

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