Maurizio Sarri’s side were emphatically outplayed by the Reds, who returned to the top of the Premier League table with their victory
Chelsea ‘played with a small-club mentality’ during Sunday’s visit to Liverpool, which ended in a 2-0 defeat for Maurizio Sarri’s side.
Aside from a 10-minute spell after the Reds scored their second goal – a truly superb strike from Mohamed Salah – in which Chelsea dominated, the Blues were emphatically outplayed by their Anfield opponents.
Only the brilliant goalkeeping of Kepa prevented Jurgen Klopp’s side taking an earlier lead, and when Sadio Mane netted the opening goal with a close-range header there was no way back for the Blues.
Salah’s strike, which flew past Kepa two minutes later, guaranteed the hosts a valuable three points that returned them to the top of the Premier League table.
Eden Hazard burst to life after Salah scored and missed two glorious chances, hitting the post then being denied by Alisson, but that was the only threat Chelsea posed throughout a lax and lethargic performance.
Sarri’s decision to not field a natural striker – Hazard was selected upfront – revealed much about Chelsea’s approach to the match, and former Stamford Bridge striker Tony Cascarino says the Blues went to Anfield with a ‘small-club mentality’.
In his Times column on Monday, Cascarino writes: “Liverpool’s performance against Chelsea was as impressive as any they have given in the Premier League for a few months.
“They had good intensity – particularly after half-time – and they controlled the game.
“Chelsea were disappointing, playing with a small-club mentality and, but for the odd flash of creativity involving Eden Hazard, they didn’t look like they could even take a point off Liverpool.”
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Cascarino also commented on Manchester City’s defeat of Crystal Palace, which sent them top of the table before Liverpool’s victory put them back in first.
He criticised Palace for refusing to attack Pep Guardiola’s side, and compared their approach on Sunday with Huddersfield’s negative style of play against Tottenham on Saturday – and Chelsea’s approach to their clash at Anfield.
“Another win for Manchester City and another team to roll over and offer little threat in attack,” Cascarino continues. “I know Crystal Palace managed to beat City earlier in the season but that made their cautious approach yesterday all the more disappointing.
“Huddersfield were the same in their 4-0 defeat at Tottenham – lots of changes but still a five-man midfield and one shot on target – and in some ways Chelsea were as bad against Liverpool.”