LIVERPOOL: Chelsea gained the upper hand in a tight battle for a place in next season’s Champions League by inflicting Liverpool‘s fifth consecutive home defeat as Mason Mount’s winner earned a 1-0 win on Thursday.
The Blues move into fourth in the Premier League, four points clear of Liverpool, who slip to seventh.
After a 68-game unbeaten league run at Anfield over nearly four years was ended in January, the English champions are now on their worst ever league run at home.
By contrast, Chelsea’s unbeaten run since Thomas Tuchel replaced the sacked Frank Lampard in January stretches to 10 games.
Tuchel was appointed with Chelsea five points adrift of the top four, but they are now in pole position to secure a much-needed return to the riches of the Champions League after spending £220 million on new players in last summer’s transfer market.
Timo Werner is one of the big money signings that has failed to live up to his price tag.
The German international, who has long linked with a move to Liverpool before arriving at Stamford Bridge, has now scored just once in his last 18 Premier League games.
However, Werner was desperately unfortunate not to end that barren run when he flicked the ball beyond onrushing goalkeeper Alisson Becker and bundled the ball over the line.
A VAR review, though, controversially chopped the goal off for the most marginal of offside decisions.
At the other end, Sadio Mane should have then given Liverpool the lead against the run of play when he skewed a glorious chance well wide.
The combination of Fabinho and Ozan Kabak was Liverpool’s 19th central defensive partnership of an injury-ravaged season.
Chelsea were easily exposing the lack of co-ordination in the backline and another simple ball over the top three minutes before half-time freed Mount before he cut inside to brilliantly find the far corner.
Andy Robertson cleared Hakim Ziyech’s goalbound shot off the line as the visitors also started the second-half strongest.
Needing a goal, Klopp took the surprise decision to withdraw the Premier League’s top goalscorer Mohamed Salah as Diogo Jota made his return from a three-month injury layoff.
The Egyptian shook his head in frustration at the call in a further sign all is not well in the Liverpool camp.
Salah’s agent responded with posting a full stop on Twitter, suggesting the 28-year-old’s time at Anfield may be coming to an end.
Werner had another great chance to seal the three points, but Alisson spread himself well to block at his near post.
Klopp’s men have now won just three of their last 13 league games to tumble down the table since topping the standings at Christmas.
Tuchel has continously followed in the footsteps of his compatriot, succeeding Klopp at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund.
The Chelsea boss had won just two of their previous 14 meetings, but came out well on top in their first tussle in English football.