Chelsea boosted their top-four hopes as Mason Mount’s first-half strike inflicted a fifth straight defeat at Anfield for champions Liverpool.
Thomas Tuchel’s side dominated the first half and thought they had scored through Timo Werner in the 24th minute, but the goal was ruled out by VAR after an extremely tight offside call.
However, Chelsea’s dominance did eventually pay off when Mount fired past Alisson to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Liverpool showed more urgency after the break, but they struggled to find their fluency in attack and failed to create many clear-cut chances as Chelsea held on for what could prove to be a crucial three points in the race for Champions League qualification.
Victory sees Chelsea, who continue their unbeaten start to life under Tuchel, move up to fourth in the Premier League table ahead of another crucial game at home to Everton on Monday (kick-off 6pm).
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s difficult season continues as Jurgen Klopp’s side, who stay seventh – four points behind Chelsea – go into the record books for the wrong reason after a fifth straight home defeat.
5 – Liverpool have lost five consecutive home games (league and all comps) for the first time in their history, while they're also the first reigning English top-flight champion to lose five home league games in a row. Nosedive. pic.twitter.com/Rg25S3pmC0
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 4, 2021
Chelsea enjoyed the better of opening exchanges and they created the first real opening as Werner beat the offside trap, but he couldn’t lift the ball over Alisson, who made a comfortable save.
Tuchel said before the game they would be looking to exploit Liverpool’s high line with Werner’s pace, and they thought the plan had paid off when Werner once again raced in behind the home defence to latch onto Jorginho’s pass.
The German beat Alisson, who was in no man’s land, to the ball, and fired home into an empty net, but after a VAR check, the goal was ruled out with Werner’s arm adjudged to have been offside.
Liverpool responded well after their VAR reprieve and Sadio Mane should have done better when picked out by Salah, but the Senegal forward missed his kick with the goal at his mercy.
It was the visitors, though, who got the breakthrough they had been threatening just before half-time when N’Golo Kante’s direct pass out to the left wing picked out Mount, and he cut inside Fabinho to drill a fine finish past Alisson and into the bottom corner.
After the break, Liverpool looked livelier. There were strong appeals from the home players for a penalty when Roberto Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of N’Golo Kante from close range, but the referee waved away the appeals and VAR saw no reason to overturn the decision.
Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to threaten.
Klopp looked to his bench just past the hour mark bringing on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months and Oxlade-Chamberlain, but eyebrows were raised when Salah – the Premier League’s top goalscorer – made way.
However, Liverpool still struggled to create anything of note, while at the other end, Werner, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot from the German.
The hosts eventually registered a shot on target in the 85th minute, but Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was easily saved by Edouard Mendy.
Chelsea’s well-drilled defence got them over the line as the champions ran out of ideas.