Liverpool travelled to ‘potential’ title contenders Chelsea in their opening away game in the league and came out deserved winners in a professional, controlled performance.
Liverpool made one forced change in defence with Fabinho being forced to line up in defence along side Trent Arnold, Van Dijk and Robertson due to injuries to Gomez and Matip.
There were pre match talk about the drop in Alisson’s form and how his performance levels were dropping to Mignolet’s levels. Part of that prediction came true with a great penalty save against Jorginho’s hop-skip and jump. He also made a tremendous save late on to ensure Liverpool ended with a clean sheet.
The whole of the defence had an easier game than expected due to the sending off of Christensen close to half time. A special shout out to Fabinho’s performance though! There were pre match worries that he would be ‘isolated’ , ‘targeted’ by Werner but he was up to the task with his man marking and tackling, which were both on point.
Liverpool’s midfield was the same from the Leeds’ game with Henderson, Wijnaldum and Keita starting the game. The midfield struggled to influence the game in the first half till they dying minutes when Henderson’s quick release meant Mané was through and was fouled by Christensen resulting in a red card. Henderson was taken off at half time for the much awaited debut of Thiago. All eyes were on the new boy and he had a solid game where his major task was to ensure Liverpool made the best use of the large amounts of possession they were going to have, but there is far more to come from him once he settles into Liverpool’s way of playing. Milner replaced Keita in the second half to ensure Liverpool retained control in midfield. Wijnaldum had lot more freedom in the second half to join the attack and should have scored in the last minute of the match.
This game was Mané’s turn to shine. He was far more alert than Christensen to get ahead of him late on in the first half resulting in the foul on what was a clear goal scoring opportunity. Mané’s first goal was an exquisite team goal with attacking triumvirate all involved in the build up to the goal with Firmino setting up Mané for an exquisite finish. Sadio was ever aware of the pressure on Chelsea’s defence and his desire led to him causing another error from Kepa leading to a simple finish which sealed all three points for the champions. He could have had a hat trick late on but was denied by Kepa. Salah created couple of good opportunities for his team mates which was spurned but looked sharp as he did in the opening game.
The best performers for Liverpool tonight were Mané, Alisson and Fabinho. Sado Mané takes the honours for scoring both the goals tonight.