Conor Bradley had a goal and two assists as Liverpool never stopped firing forward and ensured Chelsea failed its latest litmus test, a 4-1 win for the Premier League-leading hosts at Anfield on Wednesday.
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Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, and Dominik Szoboszlai also scored for the Reds, who gave up a second-half goal to Christopher Nkunku but little else in the blowout win. Liverpool moves onto 51 points, five clear of Man City and Arsenal. Man City has a match-in-hand.
Liverpool out-attempted Chelsea 27-4 and piled up 2.78 xG to Chelsea's 0.78, and the Reds were without Mohamed Salah (AFCON) and Wataru Endo (Asian Cup) while also opting to start with Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench.
It wasn't all good news for the Reds, who saw Alexis Mac Allister limp off the pitch after a contract injury late in the game.
Chelsea takes a decided step back after reaching the League Cup final amid a seven-match unbeaten run across all competitions. That's over in emphatic fashion, the visitors now four points off sixth and 12 points away from the top four.
Reds send wake-up call to Chelsea, clarion call for Klopp
Liverpool was far too good for most teams in the world on Wednesday, and Chelsea can't even quibble with a pair of penalty shouts because the Blues were so thoroughly outplayed at Anfield.
The Reds, missing Mohamed Salah, took the match's first 14 shots and dominated the first half in ringing up a two-goal advantage. Chelsea was marginally better in the second half yet still conceded a pair of goals.
And Jurgen Klopp may birth even more pieces of Liverpool's next generation before he skips town at the end of the season, as Conor Bradley played the Trent Alexander-Arnold very well.
If the Premier League needed any more notice that Liverpool was back and threatening a 'Last Dance' style winning run for Klopp, they got it and more on Wednesday.
Is it Sunday yet? The Arsenal vs Liverpool fight at the Emirates Stadium promises everything.
Chelsea host Wolves at 9am ET Sunday, the same day that Liverpool gets another big one — a Sunday trip to Arsenal at 11:30am.
Liverpool vs Chelsea live updates, score: 4-1
Goal: Jota (23'), Bradley (38'), Szoboszlai (65'), Nkunku (71'), Diaz (79')
Liverpool vs Chelsea player ratings
Dominik Szoboszlai goal: Bradley filling Alexander-Arnold role
Boy, does Conor Bradley look like the man who usually mans the right flank for Liverpool.
He's way up the pitch to reach a long line-breaking diagonal ball, and his cross is right into the heart of the action.
Hungarian hero Dominik Szoboszlai arrives to meet the ball with a header that makes it 3-0.
Diogo Jota's quick turn in the box is too fast for Benoit Badiashile, who catches Jota with his blades and Liverpool can make it 3-0.
Conor Bradley goal (video)
Twenty-year-old Conor Bradley plays the role of marauding wide man well, burying a Luis Diaz feed across goal to make it 2-0.
The Dungannon Swifts export and full Northern Ireland international has to wait out a VAR check on a wrestling match between Ben Chilwell and Diogo Jota, but it's all good and he's got a Premier League goal under his belt.
Diogo Jota goal (video)
Liverpool take the lead!
Jota's played through on goal and the ball bounds up and down — off his chest, it appears, despite a long VAR review — before the Portuguese slots the ball inside the near post.
Gallagher denied penalty, Nunez clanks bar
Opportunities at both ends!
First Conor Gallagher hits the deck after contact on the thigh by Virgil van Dijk in the box, but VAR decides not to award a penalty after review.
Darwin Nunez then gets the ball outside the Chelsea 18 and lashes a shot over the leaping Petrovic only to see it smack the upper half of the cross bar.
How to watch Liverpool vs Chelsea live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 3:15pm ET, Wednesday (January 31)
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium
— Liverpool FC USA (@LFCUSA) January 31, 2024
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 31, 2024
Liverpool focus, team news
Superstar Mohamed Salah is out with a hamstring injury but Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson both returned from injury last time out and that’s a huge boost for Klopp. Liverpool’s attack is clicking through the gears with Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz all stepping up in Salah’s absence. It is very much business as usual for Klopp who is trying to keep everyone focused for his final few months in charge. This Liverpool side are looking extremely dynamic and in midfield they now have a lovely balance.
Chelsea focus, team news
Cole Palmer and Raheem Sterling have driven Chelsea’s attack on in recent weeks as the former Man City duo are the key to Pochettino’s side remaining dangerous and creative. Defensively the Blues have improved as goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic has looked assured since coming in for the injured Robert Sanchez.
Chelsea will look to keep this tight and not allow Liverpool chances on the counter, as their high-pressing caused the Reds problems on the opening weekend of the season. That was a draw at Stamford Bridge, and they may take the same here with so many players still out through injury and Nicolas Jackson a Africa Cup of Nations. There’s a lot of improvement to come from this Chelsea side.
OUT: Nicolas Jackson (international duty), Romeo Lavia (thigh), Wesley Fofana (torn ACL), Reece James (thigh), Robert Sanchez (knee), Marc Cucurella (ankle), Lesley Ugochukwu (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Trevoh Chalobah (thigh), Malo Gusto (undisclosed), Christopher Nkunku (hip)