The Blues move back into the top four as the unbeaten run under Thomas Tuchel reaches double figures, his team taking a big three points against the side managed by his compatriot Jurgen Klopp.
Mason Mount’s fifth Premier League goal of the season, all scored away from home, was the decider and it was a strike worthy of settling any contest, hitting the reigning champions’ net just before half-time. The defeat makes it a record home run of disappointments for the Merseysiders.
Chelsea came with the intention of exposing Liverpool’s rearguard with pace, and though Timo Werner was the primary weapon for that, Mount proved just as deadly with the opening goal that owed everything to his awareness and sweet strike as well as his speed.
Klopp was able to restore Fabinho as a makeshift centre-back after injury but the high line his Liverpool defence continue to play was given warnings before the Chelsea goal, not least when Werner raced away to put the ball in the net at the Kop End only to be denied by a VAR-awarded offside.
The second half was scoreless but there was still plenty to admire about the Chelsea play as we were put under a little more pressure, and it was the Blues who came closer to a goal when a Hakim Ziyech effort was cleared off the line.
At the other end of the scale, Werner was called upon for his 36th and therefore led the attack in place of Olivier Giroud, with Jorginho swapped in for Mateo Kovacic and Reece James at right wing-back rather than Callum Hudson-Odoi in the other changes.
We saw a sign of Werner’s ability to run free in behind as early as the first minute, while Edouard Mendy had to be quickly out of his area to prevent Mohamed Salah capitalising on a similar move at the other end early on.
Chelsea had the pace of Reece James and Ben Chilwell in wide positions to hinder the attacking threat from full-backs Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, a job they did well, and we kept the reigning champions at bay for long periods. It was not until the 85th-minute that they registered their first and only on-target attempt.
Liverpool did have the better of the first 10 minutes without creating chances and Chelsea settled. A superb long pass from Chilwell was pulled down by a good Werner first touch. With his next touch the German moved inside Ozan Kabak before shooting from distance, a worthy effort that was not far wide.
On 16 minutes there was a very good opportunity from closer in for Werner to give Chelsea the lead. Azpilicueta, back to goal and outside the area, had hooked the ball over the defence and into the box. Liverpool were caught napping and Werner was unmarked and onside, but on the stretch he only diverted the ball into Alisson’s arms.
Thwarted by VAR
Soon it was Azpi himself shooting, from range, and although that attempt went well over, Chelsea did spring our game plan midway through the first half, only for one of those most marginal VAR calls to deny Werner.
Jorginho played the long ball over the top and Turbo Timo was away, beating the out-rushing Alisson to the ball and then finding the target having gone past the keeper. Chelsea celebrated but the video lines were being drawn and they decided an upper arm had been offside. The goal was chalked off. Frustration!
The Blues defence also proved vulnerable to a ball over the backline but fortuitously, Sadio Mane completely misconnected with his half-volley in front of goal.
Reds Kop it from Mason
That moment for the home side apart, Chelsea continued to be the stronger side for the rest of the opening half and we earned our reward three minutes before the interval. Mount found the net in style.
Again we played it long from deep, Kante launching the missile this time, and it was Mount rather than Werner the receiver. Allowed to drift inside onto his right foot, the England international made the Reds pay with a great finish – low, hard and curling beyond Alisson into the far bottom corner.
Solid second half
There was another VAR moment soon after the restart, this time a handball check against Kante after Firmino fired a cross into his arm, but no penalty was given.
Before long Chelsea came very close to doubling our lead, when Alisson just about repelled a fierce Chilwell shot and Robertson was in the right place on the line to block Ziyech’s follow-up drive.
The visitors from London were asked to defend more in the second period than the first, but there were blocks aplenty, headed clearances by the impressive Andreas Christensen and some strong tackling, not least from James who was snapping into challenges. Mo Salah was withdrawn early by Klopp.
Chelsea were still finding space in the Liverpool half and with quarter-of-an-hour to go, Werner was played in by Mount but Alisson saved at the near post.
With five minutes remaining there was a rare moment of panic in front of our goal when the ball ran loose but the danger ended with Firmino heading his side’s only on-target effort straight at Mendy.
The champions’ faltering form had suggested they were there for the taking today, and Chelsea took them!
Helping Liverpool make history
With this result we have inflicted on Liverpool tonight, the Reds have now lost five consecutive home games for the first time in their history. From a Chelsea point of view, it brings to an end a Liverpool run of five consecutive Premier League wins against us, which is most welcome! We are now four points ahead of them.
No fixture this weekend for the Blues; instead we wait until Monday night when we take on Merseyside’s other top-flight club in a league encounter. We play Everton at the Bridge exactly a year after the corresponding game last season which was the last one played in front of a full crowd.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell; Ziyech (Pulisic 66), Mount (Kovacic 80); Werner (Havertz 90+1).
Unused subs Kepa, Zouma, Alonso, Emerson, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud.
Scorer Mount 42
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Kabak, Robertson; Thiago (Milner 80), Wijnaldum (c), Jones (Jota 62); Salah (Oxlade-Chamberlain 62), Firmino, Mane.
Unused subs Adrian, R Williams, N Williams, Keita, Shaqiri, Origi.
Referee Martin Atkinson.