London has made Liverpool feel right at home.
In three trips to the capital in the first five rounds of the English Premier League, Liverpool is still unbeaten after comfortably accounting for Chelsea 2-1 on Friday.
Having won at Arsenal and drawn at Tottenham, Liverpool ended Chelsea’s unbeaten start in the league at Stamford Bridge, where the visitors posted consecutive wins for only the second time in 40 years.
Liverpool, more energetic and inventive, was 2-0 up in about half an hour and controlled proceedings for an hour. Not until Diego Costa put Chelsea on the scoreboard did the match begin to feel competitive.
But not for long, as Liverpool weathered Chelsea briefly coming out of its slumber, and returned to smothering the Blues.
Only Manchester City and Everton remain unbeaten in the league. Chelsea dropped to third and Liverpool rose to fourth.
“It’s a big victory, it keeps our momentum going,” captain Jordan Henderson said. “We defended excellently, and deserved the three points. It gives good confidence.”
Having already beaten last season’s league champion and runner-up, Liverpool’s third win makes the second-round loss to promoted Burnley even more confounding. On Juergen Klopp’s watch, Liverpool has been strong against Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and the Manchester clubs, remaining unbeaten in six away games against them, and losing only once in 11 matches.
Reds defenders Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, James Milner, and Nathaniel Clyne ensured Costa and Eden Hazard were virtually non-entities in Chelsea’s first Friday night game in 14 years.
Lovren was so comfortable that he even scored the opener. Given a free kick conceded by Chelsea stand-in captain Branislav Ivanovic on the left sideline, Liverpool eventually got the ball to Philippe Coutinho, who spotted Lovren and two more teammates unmarked at the far post.
Coutinho’s expertly weighted cross fell perfectly in front of Lovren to practically roll the ball past Thibaut Courtois.
It became 2-0 with a cracking goal from Henderson. He accepted a poor clearance from Chelsea on the left side of the box, had time to sight the goal, and unleashed a dipping shot into the top right corner.
“The beginning was brilliant,” Klopp said. “We played football like hell.”
Chelsea, sure to have been blasted at halftime by manager Antonio Conte, started the second spell better, with Nemanja Matic tiptoeing along the byline, and dinking the ball inside for a leaping Costa to volley in for his league-leading fifth goal in five games.
But Chelsea never threatened again, as infrequent shots clattered off the legs of Liverpool defenders.
Only the relentless N’Golo Kante, in midfield, gave Liverpool trouble. And the second Chelsea debut for expensive defender David Luiz finished like his first in 2011, a home loss to Liverpool.