Chelsea earned a crucial win over Liverpool to boost their top four hopes and further compound the sense of deflation surrounding their opponents.
The Blues were in control for much of the match at Anfield on Thursday as Thomas Tuchel’s blueprint began to take shape.
Timo Werner provided a stern warning to the side who tried to buy him last summer when his goal was disallowed by the width of a shirt sleeve.
But Chelsea soon had their noses in front thanks to Mason Mount’s goal right before half-time, and from there they never looked back.
Liverpool pegged Chelsea back in the second half as they went in search of an equaliser but rarely troubled the Blues’ defence as they slumped to another defeat on home soil.
Here are the talking points from Anfield.
1. Werner causes problems
Thomas Tuchel finally gave Timo Werner his chance to lead the line as Chelsea’s lone striker and it almost reaped dividends.
Werner was a constant threat for the Blues, persistently looking to breach Liverpool’s high line.
After flashing a fizzing early shot over the crossbar, Werner failed to make the most of his next opportunity as he couldn’t quite make enough contact to lob Alisson.
He soon had the ball in the back of the net though as he paced clear before winning the next battle with the Reds’ No.1 to score – only for it to be denied by the tightest of offside decisions.
Fabinho and Kabak didn’t really know what to do with him, and it was the type of performance Chelsea bought Werner for.
It’s not always ideal to have him in the No.9 position; Liverpool’s tactics did play to Werner’s strengths in that respect.
But based on this display, it’s an approach Tuchel should certainly consider more often.
2. Mount makes it count
Give him an inch and he’ll take a mile… before punishing you.
The teams looked to be heading into the half-time break level until Mason Mount’s piece of individual brilliance broke the deadlock.
A long ball over the top forced Fabinho out of the centre to cover Trent Alexander-Arnold.
As Mount then fronted up against the Brazilian, his quick shift to the right and burst of pace caught the centre-back off guard.
Alexander-Arnold had only just slotted back into Fabinho’s position and was too slow to react to the danger as Mount then wrapped his foot round the ball and whipped it into the only part of the goal available to him.
There was little Alisson, nor Liverpool, could really do about it as Mount wheeled away in celebration.
It was the advantage the visitors needed, and once again proved why Mount is their ace in the hole.
3. Fabinho and Jota return
There wasn’t a great deal to shout about Liverpool’s performance, but Jurgen Klopp will no doubt be pleased to have two of his key men back in action.
Fabinho came straight back in to resume his deputising duties in defence.
He looked a little rusty, though having to forge a new partnership with a player you’ve never played with before didn’t help matters – particularly with a boisterous Werner sniffing around.
Jota’s return is a huge bonus, as he was arguably Liverpool’s best player at the start of this season.
What was perhaps more surprising was that Mohamed Salah was hauled off just after the hour as the Portuguese forward came on in his place.
That’s a luxury Klopp could ill-afford these past few months, though one he will probably consider more often, particularly given Salah’s lack of impact, while Sadio Mane’s composure was non-existent.
4. Tuchel’s Chelsea beginning to pur
It was billed as a crucial clash in the top four race between two closely-matched line-ups, but Chelsea took the game to Liverpool and largely dominated the reigning champions on their own patch.
Liverpool struggled to really pin down Chelsea’s players with their press, which just hasn’t been as effective this season; certainly not of late.
The Reds are obviously not at full tilt: short on confidence and lacking that bit of bite.
But take nothing away from Tuchel’s men, who stuck brilliantly to their game plan against his former boss.
At times they cut Jurgen Klopp’s team open almost with ease with some slick passing down the sides of Liverpool’s defence and between the lines.
N’Golo Kante looks a man reborn under his new manager and is edging back towards his best, while Chelsea look an all-round more structured and disciplined unit.
Once ahead they shut down Liverpool’s space in the right areas and played the ball around at will.
There are flaws; namely the gaps they left in behind for two thirds of the match, which Liverpool were able to exploit yet were unable to punish.
But overall Tuchel will be delighted with his team’s display and more than content with a vital three points.
5. Search for Anfield win continues
Fortress Anfield really is long gone.
After their mammoth run of 68 league games unbeaten on home soil, the Reds now can’t buy a win.
This loss signalled their fifth consecutive loss at home for the first time in their history.
You have to go back to mid-December to find their last one – the 2-1 last-ditch victory over Tottenham.
And they didn’t deserve one here either. Same can be said for each game since.
They’ve been flat, bereft of ideas and devoid of any spark.
Their marginally better away form is keeping them in contention for now, but their home record is a problem that needs addressing; sooner, rather than later.