A resilient Chelsea side managed to keep their top four hopes alive with a narrow 1-0 victory over rivals Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Thanks to this victory, Antonio Conte’s men are only two points away from the top four after West Bromwich Albion beat Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. Liverpool are still third place with 72 points to their name, followed by Spurs with 71 and Chelsea with 69.
However, the Reds have a played a game more than both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, who have two games left to play this term. It was a well deserved victory for the Blues, who had to be patient and bide their time. Despite having only 38% of the possession, they created a lot more chances and were more solid defensively.
Olivier Giroud put his side through after a sustained period of possession from Liverpool, after getting on the end of a Victor Moses cross and that eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides. The extra man in midfield did slow down the Blues’ attack, but the sacrifice ultimately paid off.
Thibaut Courtois: 7.5
Made a couple of good and important saves to keep his side in the game. Met everything that came his way with confidence. Had lesser to do as the game went on, as the Reds found it difficult to break through the Chelsea defence despite all of their possession.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7.5
Sadio Mane didn’t make it easy on the Chelsea vice captain and the powerful Senegal forward used his pace and physicality to ensure that the Spaniard constantly remained on his toes. However, he did well to keep Mane quiet and in the second half he looked a lot more composed and assured.
Gary Cahill: 8
The Englishman continued his good run of form against Liverpool, ensuring that Roberto Firmino & co. left Stamford Bridge empty handed. Dealt with everything that came his way with ease, was dominant in the air and a had a solid outing in the middle of the back-three.
Antonio Rudiger: 8
— Antonio Rüdiger (@ToniRuediger) May 6, 2018
Rudiger came up against his former AS Roma teammate Mohamed Salah and ensured that he kept the Egyptian quiet throughout the game. Even got forward a few times and had a goal ruled out for offside. Was particularly good in the first half.
Victor Moses: 8
Perhaps his best Chelsea performance this year. Created a number of chances for his side and kept whipping in crosses from the right flank. Got the assist for Giroud’s goal and was defensively sound as well. Was taken off in the 89th minute to a well deserved ovation from the home fans.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 7.5
Tiemoue Bakayoko with arguably his best performance today. Loved it. Want to see that more consistently next season.
— Lav (@LavCFC) May 6, 2018
A performance to give his critics something to think about. Not a £40 million performance by any means, but it’s the closest that he’s gotten to one this season, against Liverpool no less. Worked in perfect tandem with N’Golo Kante in midfield to keep the Liverpool attack at bay.
Put in a good defensive shift and even helped his side going forward, finding Moses on the right with a super ball, which helped lead to the first goal. Was a bundle of energy, albeit sometimes a nervous one. Will do wonders for his confidence.
Cesc Fabregas: 7
Saw far too little of the ball than he would have liked. Was forced to defend a lot more as Chelsea sat back in their own half after taking the lead and even more so in the second half. Nevertheless, went about his job with sincerity and did well on the afternoon.
N’Golo Kante: 9
Indispensable. The Blues would be struggling without him in the middle of the park. Was his usual energetic self, putting pressure on Liverpool with his boundless energy, intercepting key passes and distributing intelligently with near flawless passing. Fantastic from the Frenchman.
Marcos Alonso: 7.5
Was on the back foot more often than he would have liked, understandable given that he was facing Mohamed Salah. Made some good tackles and interceptions to ensure that the Reds would have no luck from his flank. Got the job done.
Olivier Giroud: 9
17 – Since 2015/16, 🇫🇷 Olivier Giroud has scored 17 headed goals in the Premier League, more than any other player from the Top 5 European leagues (ahead of 🇵🇹 Cristiano Ronaldo, 16). Specialist. pic.twitter.com/m6Vrpt7rhS
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 6, 2018
Got the all important goal with a towering header in the box. The Frenchman just can’t seem to stop scoring against Liverpool and Chelsea will be thankful that he brought his good form from Arsenal to the SW6. Worked hard when in possession and kept van Dijk and Lovren busy. His influence faded as the game went on and he was visibly exhausted in the final 25 minutes of the game.
Eden Hazard: 8.5
Eden Hazard’s game by numbers vs. Liverpool:
33 (87%) passes completed
7 take-ons completed
3 chances created
2 tackles won
Oh and 1 ripped shirt. 😉 pic.twitter.com/jJg0pMdezC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 6, 2018
Was at his ghosting best on the afternoon. Taking players on, holding onto the ball and making life difficult for the Reds while also linking up very well with Giroud. The absence of another out and out attacking player forced him to shoulder a lot more responsibility and therefore, he wasn’t able to counter attack effectively and seemed a little lost at times.