Andreas Christensen and N’Golo Kante were the standout performers as Chelsea handed Liverpool a 1-0 defeat at Anfield on Thursday.
Chelsea were the stronger of the two sides from start to finish and in the first quarter of the game, it looked like Timo Werner could be the man to break the deadlock after being on the end of three chances. The German international did find the back of the net from one of those but was denied by the tightest of offside calls by VAR.
Chelsea did end up taking a well-deserved lead ahead of half-time, though, as Mason Mount was found by a brilliant long pass by N’Golo Kante before he cut in and unleashed a magnificent strike to make it 1-0. Post the interval, it was more of the same, with Liverpool failing to get past a stubborn Chelsea defence.
In fact, the Reds managed just one shot on target all game and it was hardly surprising that they ended up losing their fifth successive game at Anfield at the end of the 90. Chelsea, on the other hand, climbed up to 4th on the table courtesy the narrow win and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both the sets of players.
Alisson Becker: 6/10
Back in the starting lineup, Alisson was tested quite a bit by Chelsea on Thursday. The Liverpool no. 1 was equal to most of the efforts, with one of the saves to deny Timo Werner being superb. However, he could not have done much to deny Mason Mount for the only goal of the game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5/10
In what has been a forgettable season, this was yet another dreadful display by Alexander-Arnold, who got caught out when Mount scored Chelsea’s goal. Carried little threat down the right flank and never looked comfortable in the defensive phase, with most of Chelsea’s moves coming from his side. Has to do better.
Sold short by Mount for the only goal of the game, Fabinho needed to react better to stop the Chelsea midfielder in his tracks. Even otherwise, the Brazilian did not seem to be at his best, getting caught out quite a few times. A rare blip, perhaps.
Ozan Kabak: 6/10
While not directly at fault for Mount’s goal, Kabak did not seem to be all too comfortable for the rest of the game, with Timo Werner giving him a lot to worry about all through the 90. Did make 6 clearances while completing 93 percent of his attempted passes, but he needs to do better defensively.
Andrew Robertson: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Robertson, who never appeared to be at his creative best in the final third, but did appear to be solid against the largely ineffective Hakim Ziyech. Has to step up when going down the left flank, though.
Thiago Alcantara: 4/10
Where is the world-dominating midfielder who joined Liverpool from Bayern Munich? Against Chelsea, Thiago was once again a liability as even though he did not lose the ball too many times, he was overpowered by N’Golo Kante and the Chelsea midfield. Lacked imagination and has to make massive improvements.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
85 – Georginio Wijnaldum's 85th minute header was Liverpool's first shot on target in this match, their longest wait for a shot on target in a Premier League home game since May 2010 (90th minute, also vs Chelsea). Subdued. #LIVCHE
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 4, 2021
The man with the armband in the absence of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Virgil van Dijk, Wijnaldum needed to show better leadership to keep Liverpool more disciplined and move them forward with purpose. Alas, that was missing from his game, although on a personal level, he was largely error-free.
Curtis Jones: 5/10
Jones has been in decent touch lately, but on Thursday, the young midfielder was somewhat out of his depths. Although he did manage 1 key pass and completed 42 of the 44 passes he attempted, Jones could not engineer the openings that Liverpool needed in the final third.
Mohamed Salah: 5/10
The brightest spark for Liverpool in the final third, Salah, for quite some time, looked like the only player who might make things happen. However, bar one chance for Sadio Mane, he struggled to impose himself on the Chelsea defence before being taken off early in the second half.
Roberto Firmino: 4/10
After a decent display against Sheffield United, this was a horrendous performance by Firmino, who never got into the game because of the formidable Andreas Christensen. Liverpool need a replacement for Firmino in the summer.
Sadio Mane: 4/10
Sadio Mané failed to produce a single shot or create a single chance in his 90 minutes on pitch for Liverpool vs. Chelsea. pic.twitter.com/dOtNhD0Pnc
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 4, 2021
A game to forget for Mane, who was listless on the night, with the Chelsea defenders containing him with ease. He did get one chance from a first-time Salah pass, but Mane could not even get his right foot to the ball properly. Needs to improve.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 5/10
Sent on in place of Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain never really looked like he could make an impact as he appeared to be quite rusty.
Diogo Jota: 6/10
On for Jones, Jota tried to make things happen and take on his defender, but Chelsea were relentless in their defensive duties. As a result, Jota just could not manage to make a difference.
James Milner: N/A
On for Thiago, Milner did not have enough time to make an impact.
Edouard Mendy: 6/10
One of the easiest outings for Mendy in a Chelsea shirt, having been forced into just one regulation save all game. Another clean sheet at the end of the 90, though.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 8/10
Clearances made by Chelsea's back three tonight
Cesar Azpilcueta: 7
Andreas Christensen: 9
Antonio Rudiger: 6
— ChelseaFCBlogs (@ChelseaFCBlogs_) March 4, 2021
Azpilicueta has been at home in the back-three for the most part under Tuchel and on Thursday, he was solid once again, combining with Reece James to negate Mane and later Jota.
Andreas Christensen: 9/10
With Thiago Silva still unavailable, Christensen had another chance to impress, which is exactly what he did. Firmino was never in the game and that meant Liverpool did not get on top of Chelsea, and that was all down to Christensen, who made a staggering 9 clearances on Thursday.
Antonio Rudiger: 8/10
Another game, another impressive display by Rudiger, who has earned his stripes since Tuchel’s arrival. This time around, he kept a check on Salah and even denied Mane once he switched flanks.
Reece James: 7/10
Back in the side in place of Callum Hudson-Odoi, James did not get many opportunities to show his mettle going down the right flank. Instead, he double-teamed with Azpilicueta to neutralise the threat of Mane, which they did effortlessly. Solid work.
N’Golo Kante: 9/10
N’Golo Kanté vs Liverpool:
5/5 long balls
100% dribble success
13 ground duels
4 clearances + interceptions
World class. pic.twitter.com/NbNFPLsLRW
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) March 4, 2021
Another colossal display by Kante, who is irreplaceable in Tuchel’s side now. The Frenchman was an immovable object in the middle of the park and it was his superb long pass that found its way to Mason Mount before he scored the match-winning goal for Chelsea. Simply brilliant.
Starting ahead of Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho formed a formidable midfield partnership with Kante, which ultimately ensured that Liverpool never got on top of Chelsea on Thursday. Would have had an assist to show for his efforts as well, if Timo Werner’s goal was not disallowed.
Ben Chilwell: 7/10
Impressive from Chilwell, who is slowly but surely starting to nail down his spot as the left wing-back under Tuchel. The Englishman created a fine early chance for Werner and played another key pass later in the game. Also solid in his defensive duties, aiding Rudiger ably to shut down Salah.
Hakim Ziyech: 6/10
A rare player who did not really manage to impress against Liverpool, Ziyech found himself on the periphery on several occasions on Thursday, although he very nearly created a fine opening for Werner. Too passive while pressing at times, though.
Timo Werner: 8/10
A player who would consider himself unfortunate for not having his name on the score sheet. Timo Werner, on Thursday, got on the end of plenty of chances and even found the back of the net, but it just was not to be for him. A pleasantly buzzing presence, however.
Mason Mount: 8/10
"Me and Chilly sit behind Kurt Zouma on the plane and he's always watching anime.”
Mason Mount explains his celebration 😂 pic.twitter.com/NGDpvCDwVh
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 4, 2021
The match-winner. Mount was once again a bright spark in the final third for Chelsea, playing a game-high 3 key passes. The moment of the game, though, was the finish for his goal – simply exquisite.
Christian Pulisic: 6/10
On for Ziyech, Pulisic did not see much of a chance to showcase his abilities, as Liverpool went in search of an equaliser that never came.
Mateo Kovacic: N/A
A late introduction in place of Mount, Kovacic helped see the game out.
Kai Havertz: N/A
A late introduction, Havertz’s substitution helped tick down the final seconds of the game.