Chelsea spent more than $250 million ($A340m) in the off-season trying to catch Liverpool but werestill far from the level of the Premier League champions on Sunday.
Two months since Chelsea finished 33 points behind Liverpool, a 2-0 loss on to Juergen Klopp’s Reds showed just how far the gap is to be bridged – although the hosts played a man down for the second half.
For all the attacking options now available for Frank Lampard, the Chelsea manager was let down by a reckless foul by defender Andreas Christensen and yet another blunder by goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
“I expect us to be competitive with Liverpool,” Lampard said.
“We had a few threats for them. The red card changed it completely, obviously.”
What had been a tepid game swung in Liverpool’s favour in first-half stoppage time when Christensen grabbed Sadio Mane from behind with both hands, hauling down the winger and seeing red.
With a man advantage, an assertive Liverpool pressed immediately after the break – and took just five minutes to go in front with Sane heading home.
It took four minutes to double the lead – helped by Kepa.
The Chelsea goalkeeper received a back pass before trying to play out to Jorginho.
His attempt was easily intercepted by Mane, who slotted into the net.
With spectators still prohibited from stadiums to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the Chelsea players were at least avoided any taunting chants from Liverpool fans.
“It’s a clear mistake that has cost us,” Lampard said.
“Those fine margins change games at this level so we have to keep working, Kepa has to keep working.
“He has to have support around him, that’s very clear. It was a clear mistake on the day.”
Chelsea did gain a unexpected chance to stage a comeback when Thiago, on at halftime for his Liverpool debut, brought down Timo Werner but Jorginho’s penalty was saved by Alisson.
It’s two wins out of two for Liverpool at the start of their title defence. Chelsea are already three points adrift.
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspurs’ 5-2 victory over Southampton produced the almost half of the day’s Premier League goals with Heung-min Son helping himself to four of them.
It is the first time the Korean start has scored four in a league game – with all assisted by Harry Kane, who got Tottenham’s fifth.
“I wouldn’t have scored four goals without this guy (Kane). He’s amazing. Four assists, he deserved the man of the match today,” South Korean Son said of striker Kane.
It completed an exciting weekend for Tottenham who on Saturday confirmed Wales star Gareth Bale had re-joined them on loan from Real Madrid, seven years after leaving the North London club.
Neal Maupay was also on target twice as Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan’s Brighton & Hove Albion won 3-0 at Newcastle United while there were six different scorers as Leicester City beat Burnley.
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