How Klopp's Liverpool out-fought and out-thought Mourinho's Chelsea
Liverpool's triumph over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge may mean far more than three points won and lost. In earning Jurgen Klopp's first league win, the visitors demonstrated a determination which should help them on to brighter things. More immediately, Chelsea's rather timid capitulation spells big trouble for the formerly irreplaceable Jose Mourinho.
It all started so brightly for the Blues when they went ahead within five minutes. Ramires celebrated his new four-year contract by ghosting passed Alberto Moreno to nod home a left-wing cross, and with Liverpool's starting XI almost strikerless it seemed Mourinho was set for victory.
But in some ways the goal worked against Chelsea. Mourinho has never been afraid of winning the big games with minority possession, but as Liverpool dominated the ball for the rest of the half they visibly gained confidence.
Operating as the false nine, Roberto Firmino dropped off to link with Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, leaving John Terry and Gary Cahill with the traditional dilemma of whether or not to track their elusive opponent.
The midfield overload worked for Liverpool. Over the first half the Reds racked up 65% possession and completed 282 passes to the Blues' 139; this being a Klopp side, these weren't all pointless sideways passes, and the visitors fired in 7 shots (4 on target) while their hosts hadn't had a single attempt since scoring.
Therefore it was scarcely undeserved that Coutinho had levelled matters seconds before the break. Chelsea were irked that it came after more than the indicated two minutes' injury time, perhaps forgetting that the number is a minimum to be applied as the referee sees fit.
The goal was a cracker from Coutinho. Linking up neatly with compatriot Firmino, the Brazilian shaped to shoot from 25 yards but instead dummied himself into enough space to finish from 18.
Mourinho disappeared down the tunnel but if he had an inspiring message for his players, they didn't seem to show it. Again disappointing, Eden Hazard was hooked before the hour, and it was his opposite No.10 Coutinho who made the difference when his 76th-minute shot took a slight deflection off Terry and past Asmir Begovic.
By that time, Klopp had asked Chelsea another question by replacing the flagging James Milner with Christian Benteke – and the big Belgian, haviong set up Coutinho's second, put the result beyond doubt in the 83rd minute, working off a clever Adam Lallana dummy in the box, loping forward and firing through Gary Cahill's legs.
Although Chelsea fans may point to a few questionable decisions, few neutrals would argue that Liverpool deserved the win – and the worrying thing for Mourinho is that 3-1 barely flattered the Reds. They had twice as many shots – Simon Mignolet only faced two accurate attempts all afternoon – and although the hosts reduced the possession deficit after the break, the visitors still had 58% ball and completed 470 passes to Chelsea's 333.
Here's another number: seven. That's how many times Mourinho said in the immediate post-match interview "I have nothing to say". The Portuguese was probably trying to compose himself for the inevitably wearying press conference, but his actions and words increasingly betray a broken spirit, while his impromptu get-together with his coaches in the centre circle as the stadium emptied had the air of a post-mortem. The Liverpool fans chanted "You're not special any more"; coming back from this may be among the greatest achievements of Mourinho's career – if he is given the chance.
Has to be asked. Should Chelsea sack Mourinho?
— FourFourTwo (@FourFourTwo) October 31, 2015
- Jose Mourinho has lost six Premier League matches this season – he’s never lost more in a Premier League campaign at Chelsea (lost six in the entirety of 2013/14).
- Philippe Coutinho ended a run of 710 minutes without a Premier League goal by scoring against Chelsea.
- It was the Brazilian’s first brace for Liverpool in all competitions.
- This is the first Premier League game since Middlesbrough 8-1 Man City to see a Brazilian scorer on both sides.
- Liverpool have now won back-to-back Premier League games on Halloween, having lost the previous 4.
- James Milner (29y 9m 27d) made his 400th Premier League appearance, becoming the 3rd-youngest player to make this milestone after Wayne Rooney (29y 4m 26d) and Gareth Barry
- (29y 5m 22d).
- Chelsea have lost their first game against Liverpool in seven Premier League meetings (W3 D3).
- This is the first time Liverpool have netted more than twice at Stamford Bridge in a league game since December 1989.