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Tammy Abraham 6/10, Kepa Arrizabalaga 7/10 as inspired Chelsea fall short vs. Liverpool

Tammy Abraham 6/10, Kepa Arrizabalaga 7/10 as inspired Chelsea fall short vs. Liverpool

ESPN

VAR controversy struck again as Liverpool went five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Cesar Azpilicueta thought he'd levelled the scores after some penalty area pinball, but the goal was chalked off with Mason Mount's left foot adjudged to have been inches offside in the build-up play.

That came after Trent Alexander-Arnold had crashed home the game's opening goal following a stunning free-kick, before Adrian produced a smart save with his legs to superbly deny Tammy Abraham from close range. And with the Blues still reeling, Roberto Firmino made it 2-0 with a powerful header from Andy Robertson's cross, before N'Golo Kante pulled one back in the second half with a superb finish of his own.

Positives

Liverpool's attacking play was nothing short of superb in the first half and the visitors had two excellent goals to show for it. Firminho caused endless problems, while Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson again showcased their brilliance down the flanks.

Adrian will also take confidence from an inspired display between the sticks as he continues to deputise in Alisson's absence. Most importantly, Liverpool moved five points clear at the top of the table with their first win at Stamford Bridge in three attempts.

Negatives

For all their attacking quality, there were moments when Liverpool struggled to cope with the pace and directness of the Chelsea attack. Both Mount and Abraham looked to be particularly troublesome for the hosts, while Marcos Alonso's overlapping runs created a real dilemma for Alexander-Arnold.

The Reds always looked fragile at the back as Chelsea hurled the kitchen sink and everything in it at their opponents, and Kante was given far too much room to fire a fine effort into the top corner.

Manager rating (out of 10)

6 --  Despite the excellent form of Mount and Abraham, the Reds boss Jurgen Klopp opted for a positive approach and was rewarded for his optimism as his side earned a hard-fought win. With that said, that same mentality left his side a little exposed to a barrage of Chelsea attacks, but the German used his substitutions wisely as he looked to tighten things up at the back.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Adrian, 7 -- Ice-cool to lift the calmest pass you'll ever see over the head of Abraham before thwarting the latter moments later with an excellent save from close-range. Later denied Alonso with a stunning save but the Chelsea man had drifted offside anyway.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 -- Hammered an emphatic strike into the top corner after a delightful Mohammed Salah lay-off from a well-worked free-kick. Caused Chelsea endless problems down the right in another tireless performance, but there were moments when he still looked vulnerable around his own penalty area.

DF Joel Matip, 5 -- Had to endure some mightily tough spells as Chelsea looked to bombard the Liverpool box on the break. Never really look comfortable and was lucky to see Mount miss the target from close range after leaving him completely unmarked.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 6 -- One of the busier afternoons the towering Dutchman will have this season. Given a torrid time along with his centre-back partner and he'll be happy to escape with with three points.

DF Andrew Robertson, 7 -- Did superbly to flick Mount's enticing ball away from danger with Willian waiting to pounce. Whipped in a superb delivery for Firmino to double Liverpool's lead and produced a brilliant run late on to relieve the pressure and drag his side over the line.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 -- A quiet first-half display but more involved after the break. Sent a wild effort high and wide from just outside the box as Liverpool looked to kill the game off.

MF Fabinho, 5 -- Showed excellent feet and acceleration to tee up Sadio Mané on the edge of the box in the move that led to the game's opener, but guilty of giving Kante an abundance of space to fire home a Chelsea lifeline.

MF Jordan Henderson, 5 -- A typically industrious display from the Liverpool skipper but struggled to give his side a foothold in the second-half. Replaced by Adam Lallana in the 84th minute.

FW Mohammed Salah, 7 -- Produced some exquisite build-up play in the games early stages and teed up Alexander-Arnold with a perfectly-weighted back-heel. Had a sloppier second-half and was replaced by Joe Gomez in stoppage time.

FW Roberto Firmino, 8 -- Another excellent performance. Doubled Liverpool's lead with a brilliant header and was only denied a second by the brilliance of Kepa.

FW Sadio Mane, 5 -- Never seems to stop working. Drew the foul that led to Alexander-Arnold's stunner but had a quiet second half and was replaced by James Milner in the 71st minute.

Substitutes

DF Joe Gomes, NR -- Replaced Salah in the 92nd minute. No time to make an impact.

MF James Milner, NR -- Replaced Mane in the 71st minute. Hustled and bustled down the left as Liverpool looked to regain some authority.

MF Adam Lallana, NR -- Replaced Henderson in the 84th minute as Liverpool looked to tighten things up. Minimal time to make an impact but helped his side over the line.

Chelsea are still yet to win at Stamford Bridge under Frank Lampard following another defeat on home soil. League leaders Liverpool left west London with all three points in a 2-1 win though but the Blues did have a real go after a rallying second-half performance.

In the end, Chelsea were left to rue a crucial miss and a disallowed goal in the first half when only a goal down. First Tammy Abraham missed a one-on-one against Adrian on 24 minutes before Cesar Azpilicueta's "equaliser" was ruled out by VAR after Mason Mount was adjudged to be offside in the build-up. Liverpool then hit the Blues with a sucker punch and while N'Golo Kante pulled a goal back in the second half, Chelsea were unable to find the second they needed.

Positives

The Blues managed to create chances against the league leaders. Abraham's one-on-one in the first half followed an incisive pass through the lines from Andreas Christensen. Chelsea also put the Liverpool defence under pressure and thought they'd scored until Azpilicueta's goal was ruled out by VAR, and in the second half Kante scored with his second shot at goal. It bodes well for games against lesser teams moving forward.

Negatives

Chelsea will be enthused by the performance but ultimately two errors cost them. First, a costly free-kick conceded on the edge of the area, and then failing to pick up Roberto Firmino on a well-worked set-piece. Both lapses proved the difference.

Manager rating (out of 10)

6 -- Lampard's plans were scuppered firstly after conceding so early and again when two of his four starting defenders had to be replaced with injury. His side did look dangerous when going forward and he did manage to change the course of the game in the second half. Chelsea piled on the pressure after the break but were unable to find a second goal.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 7 -- The Spaniard could do little about Trent Alexander-Arnold's free-kick or Firmino's header, but he made a great save with a strong wrist to his left from the Brazilian international's volley straight after the break. He then showed great reflexes to save to his right at full stretch to prevent an own goal later in the second half.

DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 -- An interesting afternoon for the skipper. He made a key intervention to deny Sadio Mane in the opening five minutes and then thought he'd scored an equaliser with the score at 1-0, but the goal was ruled out by VAR.

DF Andreas Christensen, 5 -- The Dane gave away the free-kick on the edge of area that led to the goal from Alexander-Arnold after 13 mins. He thought he'd made amends by supplying Abraham for Chelsea's best chance of the first half, his clinical through-ball opening up Liverpool's defence. Made a crucial block to deny Salah before the break but injured himself in the process and had to be replaced.

DF Fikayo Tomori, 5 -- Had a solid game and looked tidy when covering at the back, managing to keep Salah quiet on numerous occasions. He was booked for a strong challenge on Jordan Henderson. Got a standing ovation from the home fans for a challenge on Salah.

DF Emerson Palmieri, 4 -- The Brazilian defender was under pressure as Liverpool started the game the stronger of the two sides, but he had to be replaced after 15 minutes having picked up an injury.

MF N'Golo Kante, 5 -- The Frenchman returned to the side with a goal. He was well marshalled by the Liverpool midfield in the first half but found more space to get forward in the second. He came close with a strike after the break that had Adrian scrambling across his goal line, then scored with a clever right-footed finish when running into the area.

MF Jorginho, 5 -- The midfielder probed but was unable to make a real impact. He often picked up the ball in deep positions and found joy with a cross-field ball to his left on numerous occasions. However, his final ball was often inaccurate.

MF Mateo Kovacic, 4 -- The former Real Madrid man endured a tough game against Fabinho & Co. Was booked late in the game and struggled to assert himself overall.

FW Willian, 5 -- The Brazilian was the key to what Chelsea believed was the equaliser in the first half. He found himself in acres of space inside the Liverpool box and crossed into the area, where Azpilicueta netted before his effort was ruled out.

FW Tammy Abraham, 6 -- Often isolated in attack, but broke Liverpool's high line to go one-on-one with Adrian in the first half after having left Virgil Van Dijk behind. He managed to find space behind Liverpool's back line on numerous occasions but was frequently caught offside. Missed with a header on the stroke of half-time after evading Joel Matip.

FW Mason Mount, 5 -- The youngster was busy but unable to make a huge impact. He worked well to keep the ball on occasions but couldn't get himself in dangerous positions to hurt the Liverpool defence. His highlight was a good run and cross after 10 minutes.

Substitutes

DF Marcos Alonso, 6 -- Came on after 15 minutes and attacked down the left within a minute of coming on. He failed to pick up Firmino for Liverpool's second goal, but was an attacking threat on the left all afternoon.

DF Kurt Zouma, 5 -- The defender had a solid game after he came on and the Chelsea defence rarely looked troubled.

MF Michy Batshuayi, 6 -- Came on to replace Abraham and came close with a header three minutes from time. Caused Liverpool problems.

ESPN