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Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool: Gary Cahill goal the difference as Cesc Fabregas sees red – 5 things we learned

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Liverpool-vs-ChelseaA first-half header from the England defender gave the Blues a 1-0 win at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena before Fabregas was sent off for a horror tackle on Klavan

Gary Cahill’s goal was the difference between the two sides, as Chelsea and Liverpool took the Premier League show on the road.

The twoEnglish vlubs clashed here in Pasadena, with Antonio Conte’s new team taking the honours after they exploited some set-piece weakness from their opponents.

That will depress Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, who has brought two centre halves and two keepers in to strengthen his back line, but he will at least be cheered by the energy and intent of his side.

His Chelsea counterpart though, will be equally satisfied by a performance which suggests he will get a typically Italian resolve from his new players, as the Blues defended strongly.

Here, David Maddock looks at some of the issues from the game, and offers his thoughts on the International Champions Cup encounter.

1.This was anything but friendly

Six yellow cards and one – shocking – red for Cesc Fabregas illustrated that in a surprisingly bad-tempered encounter. There has been bad blood between these two clubs since Jose Mourinho delighted in goading Liverpool, and it continued here in front of 53,000 fascinated American fans.

2.New manager,same methods for Chelsea

Perhaps their aggression in this match was a marker for things to come this season, because it is already obvious new boss Antonio Conte will utilise the defensive strengths of his team. They were solid and cynical in defence, compact and organised in midfield, but relatively toothless in attack, preferring to play on the break and sit tight with depth in numbers. If that seems familiar, then it is straight out of the Mourinho playbook, and any Blues fans hoping to see a move away from such a pragmatic (some would say boring) style look as though they are going to be bitterly disappointed.

3.New defender,same old problems for Liverpool too

Of course, these are early days and new boy Ragnan Klavan actually looks a big, solid unit who could be far more than the ‘squad player’ tag everyone has dismissed him with, but it was foreboding and just a little bit depressing for Reds fans that they conceded the only goal of the game from another poorly defended corner.

It was youngster Marko Grujic who left Gary Cahill with the Chelsea man exacting a high price after a firm header, and that kind of confusion was all too prevalent last season. If Jurgen Klopp’s team are going to challenge this season as the manager says, then they will have to sort the kind of mistakes that undermined them last season, and were again on show here.

4. Football – or soccer, as our American cousins call it – is here to stay in the US

A crowd of more than 50,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena showed the appetite for the game out here, and there is now a strong body of opinion which suggests the Premier League can expect unprecedented growth on the north American continent, swiftly allowing it to challenge American Football as the wealthiest league in the world.

For a game in which both sides fielded weakened teams, this was a healthy attendance, and one which the Premier League will relish.

5. It wasn’t much of a game though

Liverpool showed some flashes of creativity and excitement around the box, but lacked a cutting edge up front, with Sadio Mane skilful but quiet, and showed far more muscle, as six of their players were booked.

Youngster Ovie Ejaria was the only one to inspire the fans, his performance showing again why Klopp is such a big fan, and has promoted the 18 year old so swiftly to first team duty. Chelsea were content to hold out after their set piece goal, and the fans left a little deflated.

 

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