Liverpool, Chelsea Maintain Perfect Premier League Starts
Liverpool and Chelsea saw off stiff resistance from Leicester and Bournemouth on Saturday to continue setting a fast pace at the top of the Premier League with four wins from four games.
A huge error from £65 million ($84 million) goalkeeper Alisson Becker threatened to halt Liverpool’s early season charge, but Jurgen Klopp’s men held out for a 2-1 win at the King Power in another demonstration of their new-found defensive solidity to go with the firepower of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Chelsea had to wait until 19 minutes from time to break down Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge before the in-form Pedro Rodriguez opened the scoring and Eden Hazard sealed the points in a 2-0 win.
At the other end of the table it was another afternoon to forget for West Ham, who remain the only Premier League side without a point, as Adama Traore snatched a 1-0 win for Wolves in stoppage time at the London stadium.
Alisson learns lesson
For once Salah had an off day as the Egyptian fired a glorious early chance wide and was substituted by Klopp 20 minutes from time.
Mane stepped into the breach to open the scoring with his fourth goal in as many games this season after good work by Andy Robertson before Firmino’s first of the campaign just before the break doubled the visitors’ advantage.
A two-goal lead was more than Liverpool deserved, though, as for the third straight game the Reds failed to produce their free-flowing best.
Alisson more than played his part in registering clean sheets against West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brighton, but the Brazilian number one was caught trying to dribble past Kelechi Iheanacho and the Nigerian squared for Rachid Ghezzal to set up a grandstand finish.
“It’s only positive that he is that good a footballer. But we all have to learn to use it in the right way still,” said Klopp of Alisson’s propensity to take risks.
“That was a mistake – no goalkeeper in the world should dribble in that situation.”
While Liverpool were expected to challenge champions Manchester City for the title having spent more than any other team in the league over the summer, Maurizio Sarri’s perfect start at Chelsea has surprised even the Italian himself.
Sarri’s imprint was again clear to see as the blues dominated possession, but were made to work to inflict Bournemouth’s first defeat of the campaign.
“They were very organised and they defended very well but usually in this match you have to be patient because you can win in the last 20 minutes,” said Sarri.
French World Cup winner Olivier Giroud came off the bench to help make the breakthrough as he exchanged passes with Pedro before the Spaniard curled home.
Hazard then showed why Chelsea refused to contemplate letting him go to Real Madrid with a classy finish for his second goal of the season.
West Ham were another club to invest heavily in the transfer market, but are so far seeing no return on their near £100 million (111m euros/130m US dollars) spending spree.
“I don’t think it is a bad start, it is a very bad start,” admitted manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side also lost on the road to Liverpool and Arsenal, and at home to Bournemouth.
“We can’t lose six points here at home like we have. Playing away against Liverpool and Arsenal and you don’t play so well is understandable. Here at home to lose we must be very worried.”
Everton’s fine start to life under Marco Silva was tempered by a 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield.
Brighton fought back from 2-0 down at home to Fulham to grab a 2-2 draw thanks to Glenn Murray’s double.
And Southampton claimed their first victory of the season by resisting intense Crystal Palace pressure to win 2-0 at Selhurst Park thanks to second-half goals from Danny Ings and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.