Chelsea know that a win against Liverpool at Anfield will more or less guarantee them a top-3 finish in the Premier League. They played out a thrilling goal-fest, but were unfortunately at the losing side with a bad 3-5 defeat which means they must now win against Wolves at the weekend to guarantee Champions League qualification.
But the game started badly for the Blues, with Naby Keita scoring a spectacular goal with a thunderous finish into the top-corner in the 23rd minute. Liverpool doubled the lead in the 38th minute with a stunning free-kick from a long way out to pile the misery on Frank Lampard’s side.
Gini Wijnaldum then blasted in from close in the 43rd minute to make it 3-0 after Chelsea displayed more poor defending, being unable to clear away a corner. But the Blues pulled one back right before the break, with Olivier Giroud pouncing on a slight defensive error to make it 1-3.
Just as a slimmer of hope arose, Liverpool defused that in the 54th minute when Alexander-Arnold’s brilliant cross was headed into the net by Roberto Firmino. Christian Pulisic was then introduced and made instant impact, brilliantly dribbling past 3 Liverpool players before setting up Tammy Abraham’s goal to make it 2-4! Pulisic them made it 3-4 with a smart finish from close, capping off a great fast-break.
However, the hosts ended their hopes of a comeback with a 5th goal in the 84th minute, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finishing off a surging counter-attack in clinical fashion. The match somewhat summed up Chelsea’s season – attacking brilliance gave reason for excitement only for defensive mistakes to hold them back.
Chelsea Player Ratings
Frank Lampard (5.5) –
Lampard made a huge mistake not starting Pulisic for this game and was made to pay for it, with Liverpool taking a huge lead before he was even introduced. Despite playing it safe, Lampard’s defenders’ aren’t good enough to sustain against an attack like Liverpool’s. His subs were great, but Lampard’s initial blueprint was completely wrong. Needs to rally his troops to a win on Sunday.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (4.0) –
Couldn’t really do anything to save that kind of a strike from Keita. But his poor reactions for the rest of the goals sums up why Chelsea are looking for a new goalkeeper. Didn’t even put an effort to save any, despite their quality. He should’ve saved Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal, which skitted through his hands to sum up a terrible defensive performance.
Reece James (6.5) –
The youngster looks impressive from the get-go, getting in promising and clocked a brilliant cross for Mount’s early chance. Struck a venomous shot just wide of the target in the 16th. Another fantastic cross to send Pulisic through on goal after the hour-mark, but unlucky not get an assist there.
James’ crossing had pin-point accuracy today and defensively he was probably Chelsea’s best option as well. Shone through in a gloomy performance from Chelsea’s backline.
Cesar Azpilicueta (4.5) –
Azpilicueta has the job of covering James and dealing with Mane’s threat today. Should’ve done better in clearing the ball out of defence before Keita’s goal. Couldn’t organize a strong defensive shape at all, with Liverpool repeatedly penetrating his backline which looked all over the place. Unable to act like a leader today and not helped by his teammates either.
Kurt Zouma (4.5) –
The French defender had issues dealing with Firmino’s movement and just couldn’t react to his movement or header for his goal. He made a few clutch clearances but just got caught up by the intense pace of the game. Caught napping a few times as well which almost caused disaster for his side.
Antonio Rudiger (4.0) –
Struggling to deal with Salah’s penetrativeness and often got ousted by him in the first half-hour. Was embarrassed by Salah time and again, getting outpaced and outmanoeuvred all game long. Rudiger’s positioning and reaction times were poor and his inconsistency is reason why Chelsea need to look for another centre-back.
Marcos Alonso (4.5) –
The defensively shaky full-back has a big job keeping Salah at bay today. Did well to cause chaos inside the box leading up to Giroud’s goal. But he was error-prone as usual at the back, being unable to deal with Salah or Alexander-Arnold. Kept Chelsea’s defence exposed with his incompetent defending and was subbed late on.
Jorginho (3.5) –
Jorginho struggled to assert any authority in midfield and made a terrible error for the third, being unable to clear a simple ball leading to Wijnaldum’s strike. Also allowed Robertson to go past him too easily leading up to the fifth goal, showing no strength at all. Jorginho’s struggles against pacy, free-flowing teams continues.
Mason Mount (5.5) –
Mount is energetic as always in moving the ball forward but scuffed a decent goal-scoring chance in the 7th minute when his header from close-range went over. Put in a decent cross that eventually led to Giroud’s goal. Still not clinical enough or creative enough to trouble Liverpool’s defence.
Mateo Kovacic (5.0) –
The Croatian is just not being able to find much of the ball, stripping him from his ability to dictate the tempo. Very unlucky to concede the free-kick which eventually led to Alexander-Arnold’s goal as his tackle on Mane looked very clean. Showed the most amount of urgency to get things done but his creative threat was nullified by the hosts.
Willian (5.0) –
The Brazilian looks very proactive in playing as this second-striker to Giroud. But he was partly at fault for the goal, poorly conceding possession to Keita before he struck that finish. Struck a great shot to stagger Alisson before Giroud finished from close. But lacked creativity and very sloppy with his distribution today.
Olivier Giroud (7.0) –
The Frenchman’s using his strength really well to bully Liverpool’s defenders and linking up well with Mount. Managed Chelsea’s first shot on target with his 40th-minute header saved easily. Then got his goal by displaying predatorial instinct by blasting in from close. Loved the tussle against Liverpool’s defenders and was Chelsea’s best attacker before being subbed.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (6.5) –
Capitalized on the defensive error really well to set up Pulisic’s goal with a clever cross.
Christian Pulisic (8.0) –
Proved why he deserved to start by squeezing through 3 Liverpool players before perfectly setting up Abraham’s goal. But scuffed a big chance to score in the 64th minute when he brilliantly moved through on goal, but his shot went wide. But he gets his goal in the 73rd minute with a thunderous strike from close. Should’ve started the game.
Tammy Abraham (6.0) –
Tapped in a goal minutes after coming on thanks to Pulisic’s brilliance.
Emerson (N/R) –
Got a few minutes of action towards the end.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Pulisic was outstanding in his half-hour at the pitch, with a brilliant goal+assist making him a deserving MOTM. Could’ve won the game for Chelsea had he started.