I could hardly let this result pass without making a few observations, even though I haven’t actually seen the full match. In truth, I tweeted most of what follows on Sunday, but I figured it was worth collating here too.
The first thing I noticed involved Liverpool’s titan of a centre back, Mamadou Sakho:
It is also worth noting too that not one of Sakho’s final third passes came from within the final third; sometimes defenders get some when they go up for set pieces. The Frenchman has one hell of a passing range, and this match was arguably his best display of his undoubted ability on the ball.
Lucas Leiva mainly made headlines for avoiding a red card, but what interested me was that he continued his fine run of contributing directly to attacks, which he has done in every Jürgen Klopp match so far bar one. At Stamford Bridge he had two shots and created two chances, which means that he has either set up a teammate or had a pop at goal himself every 31 minutes under the former Dortmund manager.
Bear in mind that Lucas only did this every 72 minutes under Brendan Rodgers (in the league and Champions League since August 2014), so you can see how much more involved he is at the business end of the pitch now. His two chances in this game also means that the Brazilian has now already created more chances in the league in 2015/16 than he did in the whole of last season.
The Reds were also able to inflict some notable stats upon Chelsea on Saturday. Whilst possession alone doesn’t usually mean much, it should be noted that this match saw Chelsea’s third lowest home possession figure in the league since Jose Mourinho returned to the club. Perhaps of greater interest is the fact that the Blues had averaged 66% of the final third possession at home this season before this match, and never lower than 54%, yet had just 39% of it against Liverpool.
Klopp’s men also put on one of the best performances that one of last season’s top four has faced at home so far this season. Between them, those teams have played twenty-two home games so far, and the most chances any of them have conceded to their opponents has been twelve; Liverpool have done it in this match but also at Arsenal, and Swansea did so at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend.
What’s more, those three matches also have the top three places for total shots, shots in the box and shots on target for visiting teams at the home grounds of the 2014/15 top four, so for Liverpool to appear twice is very heartening. The Reds also restricted their hosts to just four chances, which is the joint fewest by a top four side at home so far this season.
It was also impressive how many times Liverpool tackled and regained possession in the Chelsea defensive third.
Prior to this match, the Reds averaged 3.3 tackles in the attacking third per league game this season, with a high of seven, but they made eight in this match.
Similarly, the best teams for final third regains average around three to four per game, yet Liverpool made eight of those too. It wasn’t a new record for the season, but was still a good effort, particularly when combined with the tackles.
I also enjoyed the fact that a couple of my recent articles proved pertinent to the outcome of this match. I recently wrote how Christian Benteke is good at winning headers but needs teammates around him to receive the passes (see here), and the Belgian won an aerial duel in the build up to both Liverpool goals that were scored whilst he was on the pitch.
Then in my previous post (which you can find here), I noted that Klopp made better use of his subs bench at Dortmund than Liverpool have in recent times, so it was interesting to see Jordon Ibe and Christian Benteke come on in the second half to register a goal and two assists between them. Klopp already has two goals and two assists from the Liverpool bench in the league, and as the Reds’ best tally in the last three seasons was four goals and two assists, the German looks odds on to break this record before the season is out.
The final point of interest was the three assist-scorer combinations in this match. Benteke’s goal was the fourteenth assisted goal Liverpool have had this season, and every one of them has involved a different combo:
Of these fourteen, only two featured two players who were both at the club last season; Moreno to Lallana (Bordeaux away) and Coutinho to Sturridge (Villa at home). It’s good that multiple players are contributing (plus Can and Clyne have both scored unassisted goals) but equally the team probably needs to develop some relationships it can rely on in order to keep the flow of goals ticking along.
In his first interview after joining, Jurgen Klopp spoke of changing the mentality of the club from doubter to believer; a result like this will have helped tenfold on that front.