Chelsea 0 – 0 Liverpool. Chelsea and Liverpool played out a tame goalless draw at Stamford Bridge that was a sobering reflection of the current reduced status of the clubs.
Bruno Saltor was in interim charge of Chelsea following Graham Potter’s sacking while Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp made six changes following their heavy defeat at Manchester City.
Chelsea had the better of the chances, with Mateo Kovacic seeing his shot cleared off the line by Ibrahima Konate early on before shooting wildly over when clean through after the break.
Kai Havertz, who was also thwarted by Liverpool keeper Alisson, saw a goal ruled out for handball by VAR while Reece James suffered a similar fate in the first half, his effort chalked off for offside.
Klopp left out Mohamed Salah as well as full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, while Virgil van Dijk was ill as Liverpool barely tested Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, the result not helping their pursuit for a place in the Premier League’s top four.
Chelsea are, yet again, a club in a state of flux as they search for their third manager of the season following the sacking of manager Potter after only 31 games in charge.
This was a game that descended into serious mediocrity but Chelsea had the opportunities to win the game and give interim manager Saltor a morale-boosting win as the hunt goes on for Potter’s successor.
Joao Felix showed all his tricks on the ball but tended to hold on to possession too long, while Kovacic demonstrated that for all his many qualities as a midfield man, ruthless finishing is not among them.
The big bonus for Chelsea, with a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid on the horizon, was the sight of N’Golo Kante at his industrious best on his first start since August after a hamstring injury.
Kante, so effective, was quickly back in the old routine as he won tackles, pinched possession and set up attacks, notably that one for Kovacic which he blazed over the bar with only Alisson to beat.
Chelsea’s season almost feels like it is in a holding pattern waiting for a new manager and that meeting with the Champions League holders, as there was little excitement to draw from this drab affair.
Liverpool manager Klopp will search for any crumbs of comfort amid their current struggles so at least he can say this draw ended a run of three successive defeats since that remarkable 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United at Anfield.
He saw his much-changed side benefit from Chelsea’s generosity in front of goal while posing little or no threat themselves as they continued to look light years away from the team that chased a historic quadruple last season, ending with the League Cup and FA Cup, both won on penalties against the Blues.
Liverpool’s only goal now is a top-four place and they are making life very difficult for themselves after the beating at Manchester City and now this draw that leaves them eighth, seven points off the top four.
They face league leaders Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday and the urgency to get a victory is growing. They will, however, need to perform much better than they have at Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge.
source – BBC