Opinion: Jürgen's Gritty Reds show an added side to their skill-set in Chelsea victory

Opinion: Jürgen's Gritty Reds show an added side to their skill-set in Chelsea victory

Liverpool have shown many talents this season, but there was something new to be found against Chelsea on Friday.

Oliver Emmerson

Fresh from Saturday's grandstand main stand opening against Leicester City, Liverpool dusted themselves off and headed down to London for the third time already in this Premier League season. 

They'd seen off Arsenal on the opening weekend, picked up a point back in North London against Tottenham Hotspur a couple of weeks later, but what many expected to be the toughest test, Chelsea, was yet to come. 

Although the Reds came into the game with a fairly solid recent record at Stamford Bridge - four wins in their last eight - the chances of making it five from nine were viewed as slim by many, especially given the way that Antonio Conte's side had frustrated Jürgen Klopp's men in a pre-season friendly. 

Two goals to the good, all without Bobby Firmino...

But that wasn't to be the case this time. Dejan Lovren in the 17th, Jordan Henderson - oh my, Jordan Henderson - in the 36th. Bang Bang, the Stamford Bridge doors had been well and truly blown down, the Reds crusing into a 2-0 lead. 

All that, after the scaremongering caused pre-match by a groin injury that kept Roberto Firmino out of the 18. Whilst such a reaction evidenced the Brazilian's evergoing importance to this Klopp team, they were fine without him tonight. 

Philippe Coutinho came back in, Daniel Sturridge and Sadio Mane retaining their places, and whilst none were spectacular individually, all linked and interchanged in such a way that is becoming a hallmark of Jürgen Klopp's rapidly improving side. 

The goals didn't come from them, although a lovely cross from Coutinho helped Lovren volley home the opener, however it's Jordan Henderson's sumptuous strike that was the real match-winner.

Liverpool won the game in the midfield

Taking a perfect touch as the ball was cleared straight to him by Gary Cahill, the skipper bent an effort perfectly so that it dropped into the top right hand corner, 6ft 6" Thibaut Courtois turned to a toddler as he stretched and strained to keep the unstoppable shot out.

A midfielder scored the goal that won the game, and it was in the midfield that the game was won. Whilst Henderson is likely to move forward when Emre Can returns from fitness, he's doing a more than fine job in a deeper role at the moment, shackling anything that the likes of Oscar had to throw at him. 

A touch ahead, Georginio Wijnaldum produced arguably the most polished performance of his Liverpool career so far. Most of the football in the first half ran through him, and it was his flick which induced the foul from Branislav Ivanovic, that Liverpool scored the first goal from.

Adam Lallana, too, was impressive. Whilst his position as an automatic starter is likely to come into question when Can returns, with Wijnaldum keen to move further forward, he's doing little right now to give Klopp reason to drop him. 

Under the cosh, in comes the grit

It was when the Diego Costa scored, that things started to go wrong just a little. Chelsea had a period just after Henderson's worldie where the Stamford Bridge crowd were made to murmur, Liverpool's away following regaining control of the atmosphere at the start of the second half.

However, when Joel Matip dived in a little early in the 61st minute, and Nemanja Matic was allowed to tee up Costa, the momentum swung. 

Suddenly, the free flowing football was gone. Chelsea were constantly storming forward, James Milner couldn't stop a constant of crosses from his side, but there was nothing clear-cut for Chelsea to take advantage of.

Time and time again, despite his mistake, Matip would clear. A colossus on the pitch, he headed and blocked everything in his path, whilst showing off his ball-playing skills on a number of occasions, shifting through the gears as he motored up the pitch.

Liverpool realised they were under the cosh, but dug in. It wasn't pretty, but it was gritty. Something that the Reds have lacked so many times in recent years was there, although Lucas didn't help with a string of errors after he came on.

Perhaps Kevin Stewart would have been the better option to come on earlier, as he eventually did enter the pitch, helping his team over the line in the dying minutes. 

In years gone by, Liverpool would have wilted. They'd have conceded a second, maybe a third. Tonight, it was different. They saw it out, just as they did against Arsenal, despite having seen a 4-1 lead cut to 4-3. Nails were still being bitten in the stands, but not on the dugout, such is the confidence that Klopp has instilled throughout the set-up.

As the clock shifted into stoppage time, the German allowed himself a chuckle to assistant Zeljko Buvac. He knew that his team could do it, and he watched his team do just that.

A start better than many expected

10 points from 15. Tottenham away, done. Arsenal away, done. Chelsea away, done. The champions have been beaten. There was a slip up against Burnley, but on another - much brighter - day, Liverpool don't concede after two minutes and go on to win.

It's been glorious, great and gung-ho all rolled into one, but now the Liverpool added gritty to their skill-set. Keep that up, and the Reds will find themselves with a gigantic points haul come mid-May.