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Opinion

What we learnt: Chelsea vs Liverpool

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Roar Rookie
22nd September, 2020
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Reigning Premier League champions Liverpool remain undefeated following a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Winger Sadio Mane secured the three points for Liverpool, scoring twice in the space of five minutes early in the second half.

Despite Mane’s brilliance, the game was ultimately shaped by a red card given to Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, who took down the Senegalese superstar in a clear goalscoring opportunity just before halftime.

While the game may have been compromised from that point onwards, there’s still plenty to take away from it.

Thiago shows plenty of promise on debut
New Liverpool signing Thiago Alcantara replaced Jordan Henderson in the base of midfield at halftime and gave his new fans an exciting glimpse of what they can expect from him.

The former Bayern Munich midfielder recorded 75 completed passes in his 45 minutes on the pitch, more than any Chelsea player who played the entire match. Thiago’s range of passing was arguably the most impressive thing about his debut. He hit long diagonal balls to wide runners, intricate balls in tight spaces and cleverly lobbed passes over the top of Chelsea’s backline.

Obviously the red card allowed Thiago more space and time on the ball but, regardless, it’s a positive introduction.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Thiago, as he gave away a penalty for tripping Timo Werner in the box. Luckily for the Spaniard, Alisson Becker saved Jorginho’s penalty to keep a clean sheet.

Thiago was officially announced as a Liverpool player only 48 hours prior, which means he’s still got plenty of work ahead of him to understand coach Jurgen Klopp’s structures and tactics.

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A new goalkeeper can’t come quickly enough for Chelsea
Chelsea took a big risk spending £80 million (A$142 million) on Spanish keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga back in 2018. It’s fair to say his performances haven’t reflected that large sum that made him the most expensive goalkeeper of all time.

In the second half against Liverpool Kepa had possession of the ball and looked to make a short central pass to Jorginho. Unfortunately the pass was cut off by Mane, giving him one of the easiest goals of his career.

This adds to an ongoing list of costly blunders from Kepa. It was only last week he conceded a very savable goal against Brighton.

The good news for Chelsea fans is they are being heavily linked with Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. Based on recent performances that deal needs to be made as soon as possible.

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Brazilian finds a new home
Fabinho has been very impressive for Liverpool since signing from Monaco in 2018. The 26-year-old has been Klopp’s first-choice defensive midfielder for quite some time but against Chelsea was required to play in a different role.

Two of Liverpool’s defenders in Joe Gomez and Joel Matip were both ruled out of the game with injuries, which meant that Fabinho had to play at centre-back. While speed is not one of Fabinho’s strengths, he still managed to keep the rapid Werner quiet with a few crucial tackles against the German striker.

Obviously Fabinho will predominantly play in the midfield this season, but his strong performance against Chelsea will give Jurgen Klopp confidence that he can rely on him to play in defence against difficult opposition.

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Chelsea needs more time to develop
Frank Lampard has already signed six new players in this transfer window. Of those, only Werner and Kai Havertz have debuted. While both players were fantastic for their former clubs in the Bundesliga last season, they have had a slow start in the Premier League.

Havertz was substituted at halftime against Liverpool, while Werner had limited opportunities but did win his side a penalty just like he did against Brighton. There’s no doubting the talent that Chelsea’s new signings have, but it’s going to take a while for these fresh faces to gel together.

There’s a reason Liverpool’s attack has been so successful, and that’s because they have played a lot of football together. Firmino knows where Mane and Mohamed Salah are going to run, which makes it much easier for him to make successful passes to both wingers.

There might be high expectations on Chelsea following their spending spree, but give them some time to develop. Once Werner, Havertz and Hakim Ziyech get accustomed to their new teammates, they are going to be very entertaining to watch.