84 min Kovacic is booked for something or other, dissent I think.
80 min Willian is fouled on the left wing by Matip. Mount’s free-kick finds the offside Alonso, whose header was saved by Adrian anyway.
79 min Azpilicueta’s cross is flicked well wide by Batshuayi. The ball was behind him so it was a speculative attempt.
78 min Fabinho is booked for a cynical foul on Batshuayi.
77 min Chelsea’s final substitution: Tammy Abraham is replaced by Michy Batshuayi.
76 min This is turning into a good test for Liverpool, who have been weirdly poor in the last 25 minutes or so.
73 min Alonso, who has been a constant outlet for Chelsea, comes back infield and wallops into orbit with his right foot.
72 min James Milner replaces Sadio Mane, another example of Liverpool’s peculiar second-half caution.
It was all his own work. He turned away from Fabinho and scurried towards the edge of the area. Then, as three Liverpool players converged, he moved the ball slightly to the right and forced a rising shot that beat the diving Adrian and flew into the top corner. That was a lovely goal.
GOAL! Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool (Kante 71)
Oh my, that’s a spectacular goal from N’Golo Kante!
70 min Liverpool have kept Chelsea at arms length for almost all of this match. I bet Virgil van Dijk still has a resting heart rate.
69 min A dangerous break from Liverpool. Mane flights a pass over the defence to Salah, whose chest control is just too heavy, allowing the Chelsea defenders to get round and intercept.
67 min Azpilicueta’s dangerous lobbed cross towards Mount is high-kicked away by Alexander-Arnold. Had that been outside the area, a foul would almost certainly have been given for dangerous play. I haven’t a clue any more, I’ll be honest.
67 min “Not on board with playing for 2-0,” says Matt Dony. “I’d rather see Liverpool pile forward in search of a 9-0 statement victory.”
Well, if you’re going to win the league for the first time since 1989-90…
66 min Although they have had a lot of the ball in the last 15 minutes, Chelsea are not playing with much conviction. They look resigned to defeat.
65 min After a nice run from Firmino, Wijnaldum sprays high and wide from 20 yards.
63 min “Has there ever been a greater concentration of the top flight’s Grade A players at two clubs than just now Rob?” says Gary Naylor. “Or is it that the great swathes of C+ and C players (relatively speaking of course – they’re all brilliant compared to us plebs) who have always populated the majority of clubs have now slid to C and C-? It’s getting a bit Old Firmish isn’t it?”
Well, it’s only been that way for a year; and although it’s hard to see anyone getting near the top two for the forseeable future, experience tells us something will change in the next year or two. But yes, with Hazard gone you could argue that a Premier League XI would include only players from City and Liverpool.
61 min Liverpool have started to sit on their 2-0 lead, which is unlike them. The next goal is a big one.
59 min Chelsea are having a decent spell. Azpilicueta’s low cross is flicked behind his standing foot by Abraham, and it takes a touch off Matip before going behind for a corner. Chelsea appeal for handball from the corner, and then Kante rifles a low shot just wide from inside the D.
58 min “The problem with VAR as it is currently used is that it seems to be more concerned with motes than planks,” says Felix Wood. “Even if it’s accurate, who cares about offsides by millimetres? But a keeper being five yards off his line at a penalty with three players encroaching like in the Barca-Dortmund game is missed.”
They should bring VAR logic to the judiciary. Stealing a penny sweet = life in the jug. Breaking into the Bank of England = a slap on the wrist.
57 min Alexander-Arnold is booked for timewasting at a throw-in. What are Liverpool doing? They are miles better than Chelsea, they should just play.
56 min Michael Oliver warns the captain Jordan Henderson about Liverpool timewasting, which in turn helps them waste a bit more time.
53 min “Define ‘pompous’,” says Roger Domeneghetti. “Cheers!”
Any use of the word ‘narrative’. You’re welcome!
51 min It’s been all Liverpool since half-time. Kepa makes a spectacular reaction save after a rebound off Azpilicueta, although it wouldn’t have counted because of an erroneous offside decision against Alexander-Arnold in the build-up.
50 min “I’m in Eugene, Oregon and trying to explain to an American friend what this team is to an LFC fan,” says Paul Quigley. “I started supporting LFC in 86 and I think this is the best team I’ve ever seen from LFC. Which one of the great sides would you say is better, or is this the best?”
If they win the league I think they’ll sit alongside the teams of 1978-79, 1983-84 and 1987-88. You could make a case for any of them really. The 1987-88 team is the best I’ve seen, although the Manchester United supporter in me was a big fan of Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool.
48 min Mane heads wide from Fabinho’s cross. He was stretching, which meant he couldn’t control the header.
47 min: Kepa makes a fine save! Chelsea a mess at set pieces. A corner on the right was headed back to Alexander-Arnold, the original taker. He boomed a cross beyond the far post to find Firmino in a scandalous amount of space. Firmino cushioned a volley back across goal, and Kepa dived to his left to push it just past the far post. That’s a fine save.
“Are you claiming he wasn’t offside?” says Mary Waltz. “I just saw the replay on the US feed and he looked offside. I am open to counter arguments.”
No, I think Mount was just offside. But I’m not certain that Son was yesterday in the Leicester-Spurs game, and that’s not good enough. My main problem with VAR, apart from the fact it’s turning football into reality TV, is that it was introduced at least a decade too early. It should have tested properly, so that various unforeseeable scenarios could be considered, rather than it being fasttracked so that it could make a mockery of an otherwise brilliant World Cup.
“Does it matter if the tech is very slightly inaccurate?” says Niall Mullen. “In the end it acts as an unimpeachable external arbiter that is less prone to error than the previous system. A bit like ball tracking on DRS. Would the ball really have clipped the top of off? Who knows but as we’ve all agreed to accept its decision we’re no longer arguing about it.”
I think it does, yeah, because once you introduce technology there’s a much greater expectation of fairness. I’d have a margin for error on offside, a bit like umpire’s call in cricket, to cover for the imperfections in the system when it comes to establishing precisely when the ball leaves the player’s foot.
Half time: Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool
Peep peep! Liverpool are well on their way to a 15th consecutive league win. There hasn’t been a huge amount between the sides, but Liverpool have just had a bit too much for Chelsea: too much nous, too much authority, too much confidence and too much class.
45+2 min Alonso’s driven cross is fumbled by the diving Adrian, but he does well to grab the loose ball in front of Willian. Chelsea have had a bit of joy down their left.
45 min A chance for Abraham, who flicks a header wide from Azpilicueta’s lofted cross. That was a decent opportunity, although he may have been a little unsighted.
45 min “Certain VAR things are ridiculous, particularly it’s negative synergy with the handball laws,” says Niall Mullen. “But at least the offside for VAR is totally fair. It’s objective & applies equally to all.”
That assumes the technology is 100 per cent accurate, but it’s not.
44 min The match is meandering to half-time. Chelsea will do very well to get back into this, because there’s an air of fatalism around Stamford Bridge.
43 min “8-0, Rob,” weeps Mac Millings. “It hurts so much. Here’s my all-time Sadness XI:
- Joe Hartbreak
- Despair Walker
- Daniel Aggerny
- Hankie de Jong
- Steve Sorrow
- Michael Ballachrymosity
- Graeme Sadness
- Mental disinte-Jason McAteer
- Cryin’ Robson
- Diego Forlorn
- Stan Melancholymore.”
42 min Kurt Zouma does come on to replace Christensen, who is the second Chelsea defender to go off injured in this match.
41 min Christensen is walking gingerly to the sideline. I don’t think he’ll be able to continue.
40 min “Don’t be daft,” says Roger Domeneghetti. “Mount’s whole body is offside – look at the photos, not the narrative.”
Ach, that’s such a shame – I thought we were going to get through a whole MBM without pompous use of the word ‘narrative’.
39 min Salah almost makes it 3-0, skipping easily past Tomori on the right before striking a rising shot across goal that is superbly blocked by Christensen. He’s injured himself in the process, and Kurt Zouma is warming up.
37 min “Rob,” says Matt Dony, “have I told you how much I flipping love VAR?”