THOSE home defeats continue to mount and mount and Mount.
From the zenith of 68 Premier League matches without defeat at
Anfield, to the nadir of a fifth straight home loss for the first time
in history, this is a quite staggering reversal of fortunes.
Mason Mount celebrates putting Chelsea in front at Anfield alongside Reece JamesCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
Liverpool lost their fifth home game in a row for the first time in the club’s historyCredit: AP:Associated Press
Such a sequence has never happened since Liverpool inherited their famous home from previous owners Everton 129 years ago.
Mason Mount’s sumptuous strike propelled Chelsea into the top four,
after a Timo Werner effort had been ruled out by a killjoy VAR decision.
Thomas Tuchel condemned his fellow German boss to seventh place in
the table – beneath Everton – and pretty soon, the best chance Klopp’s
men will have of playing Champions League next season will be to win
the thing this year.
Burnley, Brighton, Manchester City, Everton and Chelsea have all now conquered this once-formidable fortress.
And even though all home and away records should come with an asterisk
in a behind-closed-doors era which renders home advantage irrelevant, this is still a horrible run.
Sure, Klopp is without three senior specialist centre-backs, as well as skipper Jordan Henderson, but there is still more than enough quality at Klopp’s disposal for them to be far better than this.
The thrill has gone from their attacking play, the intent, the zip, the crackle all gone.
Chelsea dominated the first half and won it through the magnificent Mount.
The Chelsea man cut inside and curled into the far corner beyond the reach of AlissonCredit: AP:Associated Press
The England man was here, there and everywhere – he was even on a deodorant commercial during the half-time ad break on Sky Sports.
Remember they used to claim Mount was Frank Lampard’s teacher’s pet and Gareth Southgate’s too?
That was always nonsense. Lampard, Southgate and Tuchel all know a serious player when they see one – and Mount is one of those.
Tuchel is now unbeaten in ten matches since replacing Lampard in January.
His side are on an opposite trajectory to Klopp’s and look a decent bet not just to finish in the top four but as runners-up to Manchester City.
For Liverpool, this was a stark reminder of how far they have fallen.
The last time Chelsea visited, in July, Lampard’s team were beaten 5-3 and had to witness the Reds lifting the Premier League trophy on The Kop.
This a leaner, meaner Chelsea now, though.
Timo Werner was denied by VAR after a marginal offside call midway through the first half
While Tuchel has been a follower of Klopp, he is no disciple.
The Chelsea boss succeeded the Anfield manager at both Mainz and Borussia Dortmund but as men they are chalk and cheese – or fire and ice – Tuchel far cooler than his charismatic compatriot.
And Tuchel’s teams tend to play with a far more patient style than the workaholic urgency of Klopp’s.
Tuchel restored Timo Werner to his starting line-up, in place of Olivier Giroud, while Klopp welcomed back Alisson and Fabinho.
The race for the Champions League places is tightening – Manchester United and Leicester wobbling, Tottenham resurgent, West Ham refusing to go away and Everton sneaking into fourth by defeating West Brom earlier in the evening.
Werner was soon getting on the end of a searching pass from Ben Chilwell and curling one narrowly over.
The German striker was presented with a second chance when he attempted to lift a shot over Allison after Ozan Kabak and Fabino were caught out by a Cesar Azpilicueta pass.
The Blues were dominating possession and pulling Liverpool’s defence around at will – and they thought they had taken the lead on 24 minutes.
Mo Salah was hooked with just 62 minutes on the clock after struggling to have any impactCredit: EPA
Werner ran on to a long pass from Jorginho, lobbed Allison – who had advanced out of his area and then beat Kabak to slide the ball home.
Yet dear old VAR – a system which truly hates the existence of arms on human beings – decided that Werner’s out-stretched upper limb was a couple of centimetres ahead of Andy Robertson’s foot.
This proved a momentum-changer, for a while. Liverpool suddenly kept hold of the ball – and Sadio Mane taking an air shot at the sort of volley he would have made count last season.
There were occasions when you expected Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino to seize on openings with pace and intent, as they had done so often, for so long – but suddenly the magic has dissipated.
Then came Chelsea’s 42nd-minute breakthrough – a long diagonal pass from N’Golo Kante, finding Mount on the left, the Englishman cutting inside Fabinho and curling a shot which was tucked into the far corner with a bedtime story and a goodnight kiss.
Liverpool began the second half with a little more verve and Kante survived a handball shout for a penalty when Firmino struck his raised arm from close range.
But Mount and Chilwell soon combined down the left, allowing Hakim Ziyech to fire in a shot which was hacked off the line.
Mount then released Werner with a cute pass and Allison advanced to thwart him.
And while Klopp’s men enjoyed far more of the ball in the second half, they have forgotten how to properly use it.
Jurgen Klopp has not seen his team win a home Premier League game since December 16Credit: Eddie Keogh Telegraph Media Group
The Reds did not look like scoring at all and managed just one shot on targetCredit: EPA