Antonio Conte suffered his first defeat as Chelsea manager against Liverpool on Friday night. The Blues could have moved top with a win, but first half goals from Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson put the Reds in front. Diego Costa pulled one back, but the Blues were unable to find a way back into the game. It was a disappointing display, with some odd decisions made by the manager.
The only change from last weekend’s draw with Swansea was an enforced one. John Terry was ruled out of this game after limping out of the Liberty Stadium. David Luiz stepped back in for a second Blues debut, his first was also against Liverpool. The Brazilian defender was hoping for better here, as that one ended in a 1-0 defeat.
From the beginning of the game Chelsea struggled to get the ball. Liverpool had all of the early chances, dominating possession. It took a while for the hosts to actually string an attack together, while their opponents looked hungry. It took just 17 minutes for Jurgen Klopp’s men to take the lead, which then left the Blues playing into their hands.
Lovren’s goal was a result of some awful defending by Chelsea. Coutinho whipped the ball in from the left, and the Croatian defender was completely free at the back post. The reactions to that move summed up the two sides. Liverpool were quick thinking and full of movement. On the other hand, the Blues looked lethargic.
Things got even worse 10 minutes before half time. Gary Cahill’s poor clearance landed straight to Henderson, who was completely unmarked. The Liverpool skipper had so much space to move into, and he unleashed a fantastic strike which dipped in time to land right in the top corner. The game looked as good as over at half-time.
There was an improvement from the Blues in the second half, but it was far from enough. Nemanja Matic managed to tee up Costa for a tap in, but that was all they could muster. Even Conte looked a little too laid back. He was passionate on the side-line, but his first change came after 83 minutes. They could have done with new blood about an hour earlier.
After the game Conte was critical of his defence, but he also took responsibility for not turning things around.
“We conceded the goals in a strange way,” the Italian said. “They took the free-kick quickly for the first goal and it was a great shot from a long distance for the second but if we are in the right position he must not receive the ball unmarked.
“When you want to think like a great team you must pay attention in every moment. I must work more to improve my players. Defeats are never good. We know this, we must work and keep our concentration.”
The Blues are in EFL Cup action on Tuesday night, as they head to champions Leicester. This week doesn’t get any easier, with their next league game at Arsenal on Saturday.
LCN Man of the Match: Diego Costa