A brilliant second-half display took Liverpool back to the Premier League summit. A Sadio Mane header and a stunner from Mohamed Salah had Anfield bouncing and provided the perfect response to Manchester City’s win at Crystal Palace earlier in the day.
Jurgen Klopp claimed beforehand that what happened in 2014 would have no bearing on this game and he was right. The fans might be scarred by the memory of that loss to Chelsea, but the players clearly paid it no heed. This was a performance of character, desire and skill.
None. This was just what Liverpool needed.
Manager rating out of 10
9 — The character and mental strength of this team comes from its manager. This was a high-pressure fixture but you’d never have guessed based on how Liverpool’s players performed. That they are handling the pressure so well is testament to the work Klopp and his staff do behind the scenes.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson Becker, 7 — Made two saves to deny Eden Hazard. Neither were especially difficult but both were vitally important. Not entirely convincing with some of his distribution.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 8 — Defended very well against Willian. His job became much more difficult when Hazard moved out to the left but he came through the test well. Showed a terrific range of passing once again, and also managed at attempt on goal following a brilliant “Cruyff Turn.”
DF Joel Matip, 8 — Recalled to the side after being rested in midweek, and never put a wrong. Very accomplished performance from a man who is enjoying an excellent run of form.
DF Virgil Van Dijk, 8 — Typically dominant and composed. Not tested a great deal due to Chelsea’s deployment of Hazard as a false nine.
DF Andrew Robertson, 7 — Steady and energetic as always. Not quite as influential as usual and he had Kopite hearts in mouths late on when he slipped over and lost possession, evoking memories of Steven Gerrard in 2014. Fortunately this slip did not prove as costly, and Klopp seemed highly amused by it.
MF Fabinho, 8 — Made a brilliant tackle to dispossess Hazard in the early stages that set the tone. The Brazilian controlled the middle of the park throughout with his efficient use of the ball and ability to win back possession.
MF Naby Keita, 7 — Preferred to James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum after finding the net in his two previous appearances. Busy and inventive, without ever really hurting Chelsea. He doesn’t look overawed anymore though and was given a standing ovation from the crowd when he was replaced by Wijnaldum midway through the second half.
MF Jordan Henderson, 8 — Disciplined and intelligent in a real captain’s performance. Created the crucial opening goal with a beautifully flighted cross to Mane and linked well with Salah and Alexander-Arnold down the right. Replaced by Milner with 15 minutes to go after appearing to pick up a knock when winning the ball.
FW Roberto Firmino, 9 — Brilliant. He didn’t score but this was an outstanding performance from the Brazilian, who linked play superbly, won back possession several times in midfield and generally ran his socks off. Would have been a perfect 10 if he’d managed to get on the scoresheet.
FW Sadio Mane, 9 — Tormented the experienced Cesar Azpilicueta throughout. Scored one goal and could easily have had another couple. Outstanding.
FW Mohamed Salah, 9 — Had the bit between his teeth from the start and gave the left side of the Chelsea defence all manner of problems. Should have scored in the first half but didn’t connect properly. Made up for it after the break with a phenomenal hit from outside the box that flew into the top corner.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 7 — Came on for Keita and did exactly what Liverpool needed him to do. Kept the ball, filled in defensively and showed all of his experience.
MF James Milner, NR — Much like Wijnaldum, came on and did what was needed.
FW Xherdan Shaqiri, NR — Given a few minutes at the end as a replacement for Salah.