Talking Points: Liverpool 2 Chelsea 0

Mohamed Salah’s wonder-goal helped Liverpool on their way to an important victory over Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday. Two goals in as many second-half minutes – the first from Sadio Mane and the latter from Salah – secured the three points that see Jürgen Klopp’s side return to the top of the table.

Reds produce the business to put maximum pressure on Man City…
Many saw this weekend as the one were something would give in the title race, and where at least one of Liverpool or Manchester City would drop points. Selhurst Park has been a damaging place for title challenges in the past, but any hope of City dropping points soon faded as they eased to a 3-1 win. So it was up to the Reds to maintain the pressure with victory over a Chelsea side with a good record at Anfield in recent years. The Blues were very solid defensively in the first-half, but within a few minutes of the second-half Liverpool were 2-0 up and Anfield was bouncing. Eden Hazard tried his best to spoil the party, but Klopp’s men hung on for the much-needed result. Of course there is still a reliance on City slipping up, but for now Liverpool are doing all they can to keep themselves in the hunt. Three wins out of three from matches against Southampton, Spurs and Chelsea is no mean feat, and now the pressure really ramps up on City given their upcoming fixtures against Spurs and Manchester United where the chance of them dropping points undoubtedly rises.

Klopp’s trust in in-form midfield pays off…
Apart from a choice between Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip as to who partnered Virgil Van Dijk, Klopp’s main decisions concerning his starting line-up where who to play in midfield. Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita were the trio that impressed in the second-half against Saints and in the win over Porto on Tuesday, but in big games this season Klopp has opted for a more defensive approach. However, the German put faith in the more adventurous trio, and the gamble paid off with them all putting in excellent performances. Fabinho’s early tackle on Hazard set the tone and his tackling was superb as usual. Henderson’s return to the number 8 role has been pivotal and his assist for Mane’s goal highlights what is gained from utilising him further forward. Some were unsure whether Keita could be trusted in such a big encounter, but he too was excellent in providing a link between midfield and attack and his defensive ability is improving game by game. The trio will surely be Klopp’s preferred midfield for the remainder of the run-in.

Salah does his talking on the pitch…
In the week where Chelsea fans were, well, Chelsea fans, Salah did his talking on the pitch and replied with a goal-of-the-season contender to help his team move back into first. The cries of one-season-wonder from rival fans have been nothing short of pathetic this season, and as predicted, Salah’s match-winning involvement against Spurs has led to the Egyptian returning to his best form. In a tight first-half, Liverpool looked most threatening when Salah was running at Chelsea’s defence, and after the break he gave the Reds the all-important two-goal cushion with a truly stupendous effort. When Salah shoots from range he normally looks to curl it, but this time he opted to smash an arrowing strike right into the top-corner. Even Martin Tyler couldn’t contain his emotion when commentating on the goal, and that is saying something. Salah refused to let the occasion or his early miss affect him, and it was another match where he showed just how good he is.

Ability to move through the gears on show once again…
It’s an ability that Liverpool haven’t really had for many years, until this campaign that is. The ability to turn up the tempo when a game is slow and passive, and then turn it back down in order to see out a game. As mentioned, nothing of note really happened in the first-half, but as the Reds have done on so many occasions this season, they came out after break with vigour and hunger and soon had the lead they were searching for. But when Hazard had two great chances it seemed Liverpool players were letting the game slip away from them and losing control of proceedings. Keita was the one who decided to put a stop to this, and by simply putting his foot in the ball and helping his defence knock it around the back for a few minutes, any Chelsea fight back soon faded and Liverpool cruised to victory. This tempo-controlling ability will have to be maintained for the rest of the season, but against Chelsea it came in handy once more.

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