On Wednesday night, Liverpool defeated Chelsea 4-1 at Anfield to reclaim their five-point lead atop the Premier League standings. This was Jurgen Klopp’s 200th game in the English top division.
The Reds had goals from Dominik Szoboszlai, Diogo Jota, and Luis Diaz, but 20-year-old Conor Bradley stole the show with two goals of his own and two assists in a brilliant Merseyside display.
Chelsea’s Christopher Nkunku did reach the back of the net, and while they were unlucky not to score two penalties that night, Mauricio Pochettino’s team was nothing short of appalling in the first forty-five minutes and rightfully went home with their ninth top-flight defeat of the year.
Bradley and Joe Gomez returned to their wing-back positions for Liverpool, despite Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson being fully healthy again. Their job was to keep Raheem Sterling and Noni Madueke quiet, as they were given a villain’s welcome.
But as soon as Paul Tierney’s first whistle sounded, Liverpool attacked with purpose at every chance, and the Chelsea pair were mostly confined within their own half alongside their teammates.
Darwin Nunez, in particular, was causing havoc for the Blues defence and had his first chance in the fifth minute, which Dorde Petrovic easily turned over, just seconds before Conor Gallagher tumbled in the Liverpool box.
Although replays revealed that Virgil van Dijk had cut Gallagher’s knee, Chelsea’s insistence on a penalty was controversially denied, and Liverpool swiftly took advantage of the momentary respite by attacking the other end of the pitch.
Nunez made another cracking shot in the eighth minute, but Petrovic and the top of the bar stopped the Uruguayan. In the twentieth minute, lightning struck again as Petrovic turned a cross-goal attempt from Nunez that was sneaking in.
In the twenty-third minute, Liverpool would have finally taken the lead thanks to a goal from one of the South American’s colleagues, but few would have bet on anybody except the fired-up Nunez, ending the scoreless draw.
Bradley initiated the move by stealing the ball from Ben Chilwell and delivering a deft cross inside to Jota, who passed past Thiago Silva and Benoit Badiashile with alarming ease before scoring low into the Chelsea goal.
In an attempt to make amends right away, Chilwell did the exact opposite in the 35th minute, receiving a card for simulation inside the Reds box. Four minutes later, the left-back’s nightmare began, with a Liverpool full-back, ironically, being the victim.
Bradley ran into acres of space as Chilwell and Jota engaged in a skirmish in the middle of the field. Sterling tried to retrace, but the Reds youngster hit a fantastic cross-goal that found the far corner to start his Liverpool account.
When Tierney pointed to the spot after Badiashile knocked Jota out, the hosts appeared to be about to improve their nearly flawless first half. However, woodwork merchant Nunez struck the goal frame for the third time in the game and the eighth time this season in the Premier League.
With three of those changes made at halftime, Pochettino showed no mercy. In the 51st minute, Mykhaylo Mudryk had a golden opportunity to give Chelsea a lifeline, but he was only able to tip Malo Gusto’s low cross over the bar from a potentially advantageous position.
In the 61st minute, Nunez again sent a shot straight at Petrovic, sparing Mudryk a little blush. However, six minutes later, the indomitable Bradley crossed the ball for Szoboszlai to head low across the line, setting up goal number three for Klopp.
It would have been understandable for Chelsea supporters to start packing up, but in the 70th minute, substitute Nkunku gave the Blues a glimmer of hope by dodging Van Dijk and Alexis Mac Allister and smashing in a consolation goal via the inside of the post.
When Van Dijk seemed to clip Nkunku in the area in the 73rd minute, the Reds were undoubtedly lucky not to give up a penalty kick for the second time in the game. However, Nunez’s luck was not in four minutes later, as he headed towards goal but unavoidably struck the bar again.
The 24-year-old made history by becoming the first Premier League player to hit the crossbar four times in a single game. However, he would make up for it in the 79th minute when he sent a sharp pass across goal, allowing Diaz to tuck it in and give Liverpool a three-goal lead once again.
Liverpool leads both the Gunners and Manchester City, who still have a game in hand, by five points going into Sunday’s huge match against Arsenal. Chelsea, on the other hand, is now in 10th place and may drop to Wolverhampton Wanderers before playing Gary O’Neil’s team on Sunday.