The gulf that still exists between Liverpool and Chelsea was on show on Sunday as the Premier League champions secured a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge in a match defined by the differing fortunes of the world’s two most expensive goalkeepers.
Alisson Becker’s record £67 million ($87 million) move from Roma to Liverpool in 2018 lasted just three weeks before Chelsea paid £72 million to buy Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao.
Just over two years on there is no doubt who got value for money with Chelsea prepared to spend again to solve their ‘keeper crisis with the imminent arrival of Edouard Mendy from Rennes.
Kepa’s latest calamity saw him gift possession to Sadio Mane for the Senegalese’s second goal after heading Liverpool into the lead early in the second half.
Chelsea’s decision to spend £200 million in recent months before addressing their goalkeeper situation raised questions before the season started as to their title credentials.
Just two games in, doubts over Kepa’s ability to start for a title contender have proven well-founded as he also let Leandro Trossard’s long-range striker under his arm in Monday’s 3-1 win at Brighton.
“He’s our player and it’s clear there are two games where we feel (he made mistakes),” said Lampard. “Brighton was a mistake as well. He’s reflected on that.
“It’s a clear mistake that’s cost us because at that point we go onto have a penalty which we might score and those fine margins change games at this level.
“Kepa has to keep working, he has to have support around him that’s very clear but it was a clear mistake.”
The Spaniard was dropped twice by Lampard in favour of 38-year-old Willy Caballero last season and Chelsea’s failure to solve their goalkeeping problem before splashing out to reinforce in other areas of the field, where they are better stocked, has been a puzzling one.
Kepa had the lowest save percentage of any goalkeeper to play at least 10 games in the Premier League last season and conceded 10 more goals than he should have, according to Opta’s expected goals metric.
Karius cut after Kiev
Liverpool can now boast one of the best goalkeepers in the world as Alisson showed by saving Jorginho’s penalty on Sunday having had barely anything to do for the first 75 minutes.
However, it was not so long ago that Klopp found himself in a similar situation to Lampard.
After reaching the Champions League final and finishing fourth in the Premier League in 2017-’18, Klopp’s side were clearly on the rise.
But two catastrophic errors from Loris Karius in the 3-1 final defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev convinced the German and the Liverpool hierarchy they needed a top goalkeeper to win major trophies again.
Six weeks later, Alisson arrived at Anfield and has played in major part in winning the Champions League and Premier League over the past two seasons.
“Even at 2-0, we could have scored more but we didn’t and the game is open,” said Klopp. “We produce the penalty, I’m not sure I would have given it, then Ali had to make the save.
“This is a proper team performance, everybody had to work hard.”
Chelsea have spent big and looked to the future in the signings of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Ben Chilwell.
But without a world-class keeper behind them, they still do not have the foundations of a title contender.