EPL

Thiago's clinic, Kepa's woes and Werner's promise - Liverpool's 2-0 win at Chelsea in Opta focus

By Sports Desk September 20, 2020

After an impressive close season in the transfer market aiming to bridge the gap to the top of the Premier League, Chelsea got an uneasy look at how that chasm appears on the field as Liverpool eased to a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

Even before Andreas Christensen's game-changing red card for a professional foul on Sadio Mane during first-half stoppage time, Jurgen Klopp's champions had dictated matters.

That state of affairs only became more skewed after half-time as Thiago Alcantara announced his Premier League arrival with a passing clinic against depleted opponents.

Mane gave his own lesson in clinical opportunism with both goals, even if Kepa Arrizabalaga's problems were almost as influential - on both Chelsea's demise and, in all likelihood, his immediate future.

Frank Lampard claimed afterwards that the 90 minutes were not without plus points for the Blues, with another lively Timo Werner showing giving a tantalising indication of how much the Germany forward might enjoy England's top flight.

PASS MASTER THIAGO MARKS HIS ARRIVAL

Losing skipper Jordan Henderson at the interval might have compromised Liverpool's strong position in the match, but former Barcelona and Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago demonstrated the extra dimension he can lend to Klopp's winning machine, albeit in a match where the pattern was already established by Chelsea's numerical disadvantage.

Thiago completed 75 passes of 83 attempted (90.4 per cent), more than any Chelsea player over the course of the contest. Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic - the closest thing to Thiago equivalents in Lampard's line-up - were both substituted in the 79th minute having completed 43 and 58 passes respectively.

Since Opta began collecting full passing data in 2003-04, the Spain international's 75 passes are the most made by a player to have played a maximum of 45 minutes.

Thiago's impact helped Liverpool to improve their 53.5 per cent share of first-half possession to 68 per cent in the second period. The visitors outstripped their 301 first-half passes with 458 after the break.

ALISSON UNDERLINES TALE OF TWO KEEPERS

Despite the free-scoring nature of the season, Opta's metric tracking errors leading directly to goals has only recorded three overall. Kepa is now responsible for two of those.

As Edouard Mendy seemingly closes in on a move to Stamford Bridge from Rennes, the Spain goalkeeper's race appears to be run.

At the other end of their home pitch, Chelsea's hierarchy were able to look ruefully at how things might have panned out. Alisson was understood to be a target to replace Thibaut Courtois before Liverpool got their man.

The Brazil number one made three saves, including an exceptional stop from Jorginho's 75th-minute penalty.

It was the first time Jorginho failed from the spot in nine attempts for Chelsea, excluding shoot-outs, and Alisson's first such stop from three faced since signing from Roma in 2018. In this age of the VAR keeping an eagle eye on keepers straying from their goal line, it was no mean feat.

WERNER SOUNDS ANOTHER WARNING AS MANE SETS STANDARD

As was the case when Jorginho converted his spot-kick against Brighton and Hove Albion, Werner drew a foul in the area to land the opportunity. The former RB Leipzig star is the first player to win a penalty in each of his first two Premier League appearances since Stamford Bridge favourite Eden Hazard back in 2012.

An early dart inside from the left channel suggested Werner might get plenty of joy out of makeshift centre-back Fabinho. However, the Brazilian's four tackles, four interceptions and 12 instances of gaining possession were the best of those numbers returned by any Liverpool player.

Werner's pace and directness is a huge part of his appeal and he has been quick to bring those attributes to Chelsea. His 20 sprints were more than any other player on Lampard's side, with his top speed of 32.27 kilometres per hour quicker than any of his team-mates.

If the £47.5million acquisition can hit the heights that have become customary for Mane, Lampard will be a very happy man indeed.

The Senegal star has scored in each of his past three Premier League away games for Liverpool and his match-winning brace was the 13th time he has converted more than once in a top-flight fixture.

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