Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea
Despite leading the table at different stages in December, these two sides have long since resigned themselves to the realisation they will not be involved in the 2020/21 Premier League title race.
Yet there was still much at stake in this meeting at Anfield, not least with both their eyes on a lucrative top-four spot.
In the end, however, the stark reality is that, for the first time in the club’s proud history, Liverpool have lost five home games in a row.
No amount of SBOTOP Premier League betting odds would have predicted that at the start of the season.
Highlights of the game
On a night in which the home side paid tribute before kick-off to one of their favourite sons, the late footballer and broadcaster Ian St John, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson returned along with Fabinho, who partnered Ozan Kabak at the heart of the defence.
For Chelsea, there were also two changes with Timo Werner coming in for Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho replacing Mateo Kovacic.
For the first 25 minutes, it was the Werner show.
The German striker controlled well and bent an effort just over the bar.
He then stabbed the ball tamely at Allison after meeting a Cesar Azpilicueta cross from close range.
Shortly after that, Werner reached a ball over the top, stabbed it past the onrushing goalkeeper and poked the ball home.
VAR spared the home side on this occasion and the decision seemed to lift their spirits.
They would have led had Sadio Mane, the star of this fixture earlier in the season, not mishit a volley from a Mo Salah delivery.
Three minutes before the break though and Chelsea had the half-time lead their play merited.
N’Golo Kante’s pinpoint ball found Mason Mount and he cut inside before placing an unstoppable finish into the bottom corner.
Ten minutes after the restart and the contest could have been all but over but Andy Robertson expertly cleared Hakim Ziyech’s shot off the line.
It could have been over 13 minutes from the end too as Mount played in Werner and again the frontman managed a shot on target from a tight angle which had to be blocked by Alisson.
Before kick-off, Tuchel spoke of the goalscoring struggles his team had experienced and here was a fine example of not killing the match off.
On this occasion, it didn’t matter.
Attacking Premier League highlights may have been at a premium but Chelsea seemed content on letting Liverpool enjoy spells of possession such was the general comfort in which the visitors kept them at bay.
Liverpool, bidding to win five successive league games against Chelsea for the first time since a run from 1972-74, rarely looked like scoring and mustered on effort on target all night.
At the start of season, there seemed a gulf between these sides when their west London clash resulted in a comprehensive victory for the Merseysiders, who were in control even before the hosts were reduced to 10 men in the first half.
That confident Liverpool now seems to have been replaced by a side drained of confidence. It’s Chelsea on the up under Tuchel.
Liverpool have earned just 10 points from 11 Premier League games in 2021, with only West Brom (nine), Newcastle (seven) and Southampton (four) picking up fewer points since the turn of the year.
Liverpool’s solitary goal in five games at Anfield was a Salah penalty in last month’s 4-1 defeat by Manchester City.
Édouard Mendy has kept 12 clean sheets in 22 Premier League starts – of the 210 goalkeepers to have started at least 10 games in the competition, he is the only one to keep a clean sheet in over half.
All five of Mount’s Premier League goals this season have come away from home; he’s scored three goals in eight league games under Tuchel, compared to two in 18 under Frank Lampard this term.
Tuchel is unbeaten in his first 10 matches as Chelsea boss in all competitions, winning seven and drawing three.
This was his first victory in eight meetings against his German compatriot Jurgen Klopp.
This was only Chelsea’s second league victory in 13 meetings with Liverpool.
This was the first of three home matches for Liverpool who take on basement battlers Fulham on Sunday (March 7) before taking on RB Leipzig (a tie moved to Budapest) next midweek for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. The Merseysiders already hold a 2-0 advantage.
Chelsea are next in action on Monday night (March 8) when they welcome Everton and Carlo Ancelotti – who guided the west Londoners to a league and cup double in 2010 – to Stamford Bridge.
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