Chelsea vs Liverpool: Five things we learned from Liverpool’s set pieces to Chelsea’s defensive troubles

Goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino made six wins out of six for the Reds

Callum Rice-Coates
Sunday 22 September 2019 18:31
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1) Alexander-Arnold getting better and better

If Trent Alexander-Arnold starts regularly adding goals to his game, he will be a truly formidable opponent. His crossing ability is well-known by now, but he is equally adept at picking out a corner of the net with ease too.

He proved that on Sunday afternoon, planting the ball into the top corner from a free kick just outside the box. And he was typically reliable throughout the game, covering ground up and down the right flank, doing his defensive duties well and causing problems, as ever, in attack.

And at 20, there should still be far more to come from Alexander-Arnold. That is a daunting prospect for the rest of the division.

2) Liverpool's set piece potency continues

Since the start of last season, according to Opta, Liverpool have scored 34 goals from set pieces. That is seven more than any other side in the division. And it’s hardly surprising, given the quality of delivery regularly put into the box by both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson.

The full backs were again responsible for Liverpool’s two goals, both from set pieces, in the first half. Alexander-Arnold’s opener was a stunning strike from the edge of the box, immaculately placed past Kepa into the top corner. And Robertson provided the dipping, curled ball into the box that was met by Roberto Firmino for the second.

Chelsea’s defending was questionable, but Liverpool, as the statistics show, are difficult to stop from dead ball situations.

3) Chelsea showing few signs of fixing defensive problems

Only Norwich and bottom of the league Watford have conceded more goals in the Premier League than Chelsea this season. That is hugely concerning for a team with aspirations of a top four finish.

Frank Lampard’s side have now let in 13 goals, and the manager does not appear to have an obvious solution to their defensive woes. It will not help that Andreas Christensen was forced off injured in the first half, replaced by the out of form Kurt Zouma.

It was far too easy for Liverpool to put balls into the box, and Chelsea looked particularly susceptible from set pieces. The second goal, headed in by an open Firmino, demonstrated the hosts’ severe defensive deficiencies.

Goal scoring has not been a problem for the Blues, but they will need to stem the flow at the other end, and soon, if they are to challenge at the top of the Premier League.

Van Dijk had the better of Abraham

4) Abraham not complete forward yet

It has, unquestionably, been an excellent start to the season for Tammy Abraham, making the step up from the Championship to the Premier League. He has scored seven goals already, including a ruthless, clinical hat-trick away at Wolves.

And it would be easy to get carried away with such a start. It must be remembered that he is just 21-years-old, still inexperienced at this level and still in the process of improving his game. He will have off days, and this was one of them. He missed a fairly simple one-on-one in the first half and failed to convert a couple of half chances after the break.

But his positional awareness, his ability to sniff out chances remained impressive. And he was not completely nullified by Virgil van Dijk, as some suspected he might be. Abraham still has plenty of room to improve, then, but he should take heart from this performance.

5) Chelsea show fight but still big gulf between top two and the rest

Chelsea were much improved in the second half, competing throughout and restricting Liverpool to relatively few chances. N’Golo Kante’s excellent goal gave the home side a route back into it and, to their credit, they pushed hard for an equaliser.

But it remains clear that there is a significant gap in quality between the newly established top two – Manchester City and Liverpool – and the rest. Chelsea, it seemed, had to work exceptionally hard to give themselves a chance of avoiding defeat.

This was not Liverpool at their free-flowing best. Chelsea might have rescued a point late on had they not squandered the chances they created. But victory at Stamford Bridge in such circumstances is testament to the level Jurgen Klopp’s side are now at. The top two, six games in, are already breaking away from the pack.

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