Player ratings: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea

Salah-celebrates-goal-with-team-mates
With one ferocious swing of Mo Salah’s left boot, the demons of 13-14 were vanquished from Anfield and man, did it feel good. Arguably our best performance of the season as we saw off the plastics and with them, our toughest remaining game of the season on paper. This was a champions performance. Let’s see how the league leaders got on...

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Alisson (6.5) - Good save to deny Hazard in the second half but he just can’t help himself can he? More shenanigans with the ball at his feet, playing team mates into trouble  and conceding possession with nonsense. Another breakdown in communication with Virgil in the first half, when Virgil motioned for him to come and collect and Alisson didn’t get the message. We need him steady in the coming weeks, less of the erratic stuff.

TAA (8) - Trent’s best performance in a while. Constant outlet on the right and showed some superb cross field passing, crosses and interceptions. Much improved defensively as well. Really mature performance from our ever developing right back.

Matip (7.5) - Matip’s fine form continued with another solid display alongside Virgil. Dealt well with Chelsea’s threat for the most part and did well both aerially and with the ball at his feet. It’s a real credit to Matip that the loss of Gomez has gone all but unnoticed, given the fine form the Englishman was in prior to his injury, Matip has more than taken his place and Gomez has a fight on his hands to get it back.

Van Dijk (8) - All the best forwards in the league and in Europe, keep coming up against Virgil and keep getting no change out of him. His turn of pace to get in front of hazard when Chelsea were breaking in the first half was impressive and some of his long passing from the back is outrageously good. Will be a deserving PFA player of the year winner, should it happen. Registered an assist for Salah’s goal as well.

Robertson (7.5) - A fine display from Robbo, who handed Hudson-Odoi a reality check after keeping the much vaunted Chelsea youngster all but anonymous, before he was substituted around the hour mark. Willian didn’t have any more joy down our left than his young team mate had and Robbo was an attacking threat throughout. Bosses that left flank.

Fabinho (7.5) - More like it from Fabinho as he broke up Chelsea attacks and nicked back possession time and again. Not as wasteful with his passing today and played a big part in us winning the physical battle in midfield. His importance continues to grow.

Henderson (8) - The skipper’s fine form continued as his rebirth in a more attacking role, shows no sign of slowing down. Grabbed himself an assist with a lovely dinked ball to the back post to set up Mane. Instigated the press from the first whistle and set the tempo for the team. Subbed after going down holding his Achilles. Hopefully just a precaution.

Keita (7) - Mixed bag for Keita. Some good work, especially in the first half as he attempted a number of probing passes and dribbles. Still a bit wasteful however and guilty of not making his mind up quickly enough, leading to us losing possession. Understandable he was the one to make way, when Klopp wanted more control of the game.

Salah (9) - Wow. What a strike! What a time to rediscover some of last season’s X factor, that’s arguably been missing from Salah’s game at times this season. Was looking lively and dangerous throughout, although was giving the ball away and arguably should have done better with that volley in the first half that came off his shin. What a way to make that game safe and silence his critics however. Especially those Chelsea fans recorded in that video this week. How do you like that one lads?

Firmino (8) - Bobby demonstrated today all that he brings to the team, despite perhaps not scoring and assisting every week. He relentlessly pressed the Chelsea players, won back possession time and again, held the ball up well and put in a real team player’s performance. Created a couple of chances for himself as well. Our front three look to be clicking at just the right time.

Mane (8.5) - Scored the vital opener and was a constant threat throughout. Azpilicueta will know he’s been in a game tonight, no doubt. Mane probed and tormented the Chelsea fullback all game and could have had another with a curling effort in the first half. Looks full of confidence.

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Subs:

Wijnaldum (6.5) - Came on and got himself so dirty, he had to walk home after being denied entry on to the team bus. In all seriousness, his introduction for Keita in the second half, brought much more control to our game.

Milner (6) - Huffed and puffed.

Shaqiri (N/A) - Still potato shaped.

Klopp-watch (10) - Jurgen got things spot on today as he masterminded our first Anfield win over Chelsea since 2012, while going some way to banishing ghosts from the past. Team selection, tactics and substitutions spot on as well. Keep it up Jurgen lad.

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Summary:

As I said, that was arguably our most impressive victory of the season. We dominated Chelsea for the vast majority of the game and once the second goal went in, I never really felt the result was in doubt. What a difference that is to the last title contenders we had, that lost to Chelsea at a similar stage of the season, in that now infamous game of 13/14. That’s not this team though.

This team is now experienced in big pressure games. Calm, confident in their own and each other’s ability. You could see our players knew they were better than Chelsea today and would eventually find a way and so it came to pass. We controlled the game completely for 80% of proceedings, limiting Chelsea to little flurries of activity around our box. That’s a world away from the blood and thunder of 13/14 where we were as likely to win 5-3 as 2-0. That is why we might just do it.

As gutted as we were to see City get the win against Palace today, make no mistake, the City players will have been a lot more gutted watching that. This was the game they will have had pencilled in their diaries as the most likely we would drop points but we’ve answered that question emphatically. Now it really is over to City. A triple header of Spurs twice and United await them. Can they really get through that unscathed?

For ourselves, the less daunting prospect of  Porto (with a two goal lead) and Cardiff await us in our next games and you would think the psychological impact of today’s performance and result, should carry us forward with some momentum going into the final stretch of the season.

We’ve done the hard bit now. We’ve beaten Spurs and beaten Chelsea. It should be plain sailing to the title from here right? Walk on!

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