Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was able to take positives from his side’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, his side finishing the day with 10 men.
After their summer of spending, this early season encounter was billed as an opportunity to assess if Frank Lampard’s side were able to close the gap on last season’s runaway champions.
Liverpool dominated the ball early on, as Chelsea looked to sit back and frustrate the visitors, with new arrival Timo Werner looking to be a threat on the counter – although the German’s rapid breakaways were well dealt with by makeshift centre-back, Fabinho.
Then, with an even first half edging towards a goalless conclusion, the game would take a huge swing in Liverpool’s favour, an excellent raking ball from Jordan Henderson straight through the middle of the park finding the onrushing Sadio Mane who was bearing down on the Chelsea goal. The Senegalese forward was brought down by the chasing Andreas Christensen, who, after initially being shown a yellow card, was given his marching orders for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity following a review on the pitchside monitor.
Within five minutes of the restart, Liverpool took full advantage of the extra man. Roberto Firmino playing a quick one-two with Mohamed Salah down the right, the Brazilian standing the ball up for the third man of the Reds deadly attacking trio, Sadio Mane, who expertly steered his header past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Three and a half minutes later, and it was virtually game over, Arrizabalaga showing why Chelsea are in the market for a new ‘keeper. The Spain international added to his ever-growing list of calamities as he dallied on the ball. The 25-year-old was closed down by the energetic press of Mane who intercepted the Spaniard’s attempted clearance before tucking the ball home from six yards out.
With the man advantage, Liverpool further dominated possession, but a rare foray forward saw the hosts handed a potential lifeline, the lively Werner bustling his way into the box before being brought down in the box by the Reds debutant midfielder, Thiago Alcantara.
However, despite his previously perfect record from the spot, Jorginho saw his effort met by a firm left hand from Reds ‘keeper Alisson Becker, and the resulting rebound was cleared away for a corner.
Alisson was forced into another save with six minutes remaining from a Tammy Abraham effort, before Kepa was forced into a couple of late saves.
First, Sadio Mane attempted to take advantage of Kepa’s perceived weakness from distance with a vicious strike, before last week’s hat-trick hero Salah saw a close-range effort palmed away.
Speaking afterwards, Frank Lampard conceded that the red card on the stroke of half time was a game-changer for his side after what had been an even first half.
“For chances, the first half was very even,” the Blues boss told Match of the Day. “The red card changes the face of the game, the talk I do at half-time, it forces me into a reshuffle and it was always going to be difficult after that.
“I think it could be given or not. I was perhaps surprised it was given as a yellow first. If it was given as a red straight away and you continue with that.”
Despite being a man down, Lampard felt that his side could have still could have got something out of the game if it weren’t for his ‘keepers latest high profile blunder.
Errors leading to goals in the 2020-21 Premier League:
◎ Kepa Arrizabalaga: 2
◎ All other players in the league combined: 1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 20, 2020
“Big mistake. Clear mistake and when you reflect on the half without the mistake and the penalty we draw the game 1-1. I’m actually happier in many ways than I was after Brighton on Monday. It was a game of spirit and character and lots of individuals showed me good things today.
“I thought we could get higher up the pitch and would have done with 11. I was concerned with how we would defend our box, first half we were brilliant at doing it but the red card changed the whole course of the game.”
Next up, Chelsea host Championship side Barnsley in the Carabao Cup, before a trip to face newly-promoted West Brom at the Hawthorns next weekend.