Three talking points as Liverpool overcome 10-man Chelsea

Frank Lampard's credentials, Kepa Arrizabalga's future, and Thiago Alcantara's promise go under the microscope
Three talking points as Liverpool overcome 10-man Chelsea

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard congratulates Liverpool's Sadio Mane. Photo: Matt Dunham/NMC Pool/PA Wire.

TOO EARLY TO JUDGE LAMPARD 

Spending over €200m this summer has put Chelsea firmly in the conversation as title challengers and, therefore, manager Frank Lampard's credentials as a leading boss come into question. 

He got the side into the top four against expectations last season, but now he is expected to challenge at an even higher level. This is only his second full season as a top-flight manager, a young man still trying to work out how best to do his job and pick his team. 

Chelsea's owner and their supporters are not known for their patience, but now is the time to hold their nerve. At times he looked a novice on the touchline alongside the might of Jurgen Klopp, but he has not had a proper pre-season to get the new players gelling together and only two of the new signings started this match as they battle with fitness issues. 

Lampard gambled on playing most expensive recruit Kai Havertz as a false nine but the punt did not really return any reward as he withdrew the German at half-time to accommodate Christensen's red card. 

The next time these sides meet in March, Lampard's line-up could look a whole lot different. Chelsea conceded five at Anfield at the end of last season and Lampard set his side up completely differently to avoid a repeat of that free-scoring roller coaster. It did not work, of course, but it is still too early to judge him.

KEPA NOT FOR KEEPS 

Kepa Arrizabalga was handed this one final chance to prove himself by Frank Lampard and now it will not be a surprise if he never plays for Chelsea again with Edouard Mendy's £20m signing from Rennes imminent. 

Even Christensen's game-changing red card felling of Sadio Mane might not have happened had he more trust in his goalkeeper to fend off the goal threat. But the much-maligned Kepa had only himself to blame for gifting Mane's second with a horrendous attempt of a clearance straight to the Liverpool forward. 

It is hard not to empathise with Kepa's failures but the pressure was always going to be on the minute Chelsea made him the world record goalkeeper signing in excess of €70m. 

Chelsea will now up their attempts to find him a new club before the window closes next month, if only for his own sanity. Former Chelsea keeper Petr Cech is now back at in the fold as part of the club's technical and performance advisor and had argued to give Kepa another go, but he was also instrumental in bringing in Mendy. Kepa, sadly, now appears to be friendless when it comes to future team selection.

THIAGO DICTATES POOL PLAY 

Even in a near-empty stadium, the excitement was tangible when Thiago Alcantara was being put through his warm-up routine at half-time. We really were going to see arguably the Premier League's most exciting summer signing make a debut just days after joining from Bayern Munich. 

Liverpool's recruitment in recent seasons has been exemplary and to sign a player with Thiago's ability from the position of strength as runaway league champions is pure class. 

And to see the way the 29-year-old dictated Liverpool's play from his very first touch showed he will have no problems adapting to the Premier League – even though he conceded a penalty for tripping Timo Werner. 

There are few players who look so at ease on the ball, a player with the deftest of touches and lightest of feet, as he demanded it at every opportunity. He came on as a replacement for Jordan Henderson, who had picked up a slight injury, but it will be hard to leave him out of the side from now on. 

At 5ft 5in there is not much of the multi-lingual Italy-born son of a Brazil international who plays for Spain. But Liverpool's odds on retaining the title look a whole lot better after just 45 minutes of Thiago time.

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