Chelsea outplay Liverpool, but fail to finish chances in frustrating draw
Chelsea and Liverpool matched one another step for step, frustration for frustration, as each club’s disappointing season droned on in a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
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The result does little for either side, with Liverpool (43 points) reclaiming 8th place from Brentford. Chelsea (39 points), meanwhile, remain 11th, level on points with newly promoted Fulham in 10th as the post-Graham Potter era began in earnest.
Chelsea threatened early and often, out-xG-ing Liverpool to the tune of 2.12-0.35 on the night, only for Kai Havertz and Joao Felix combined to miss eight chances between them. Alisson made three saves, including a pair of crucial, close-range denials of Havertz, to secure a point for the floundering Reds.
For a brief moment, Chelsea thought they had gone 1-0 ahead after Reece James smashed a low volley through a sea of bodies, but Enzo Fernandez was flagged as offside when he touched the ball earlier in the sequence inside Liverpool’s penalty area.
Chelsea again thought they had taken the lead when Havertz “beat” Alisson with a second “effort” in the 49th minute. Havertz raced in on goal after N’Golo Kanate split the Liverpool defense with a cutting through ball. Alisson made the save, but the rebound came off Havertz and slowly roller toward an empty net. However, video review revealed the ball came off Havertz’s arm.
Kante returns to stabilize, reinvigorate Chelsea midfield
First things first, it was great just to see Kante back in the starting lineup after missing seven and a half months, including the 2022 World Cup. Very few midfielders have dominated the PL to the degree that Kante did from 2015 to sometime in 2021, when his decline began.
Making his first start since Aug. 14, Kante was pretty comfortably the best player on the field on Tuesday. Not only was he always in the right spot at the right time defensively, but the speed with which he started counter-attacks after doing so made a night-and-day difference in transition. On a different day (or with a different front line, perhaps), Kante might have had two or three assists and received a celebratory ovation when he was subbed off after 69 minutes.
It would be unwise to expect the 32-year-old to reach these dizzying heights every time out — or to start every game going forward — but if he can prove himself reliable once again over the last 10 games of this season, it is not unreasonable for Chelsea fans to dream of what a Kante-Enzo Fernandez partnership might look like for a year or two.
Stars of the show
Liverpool have an even tougher test on deck come Sunday (11:30 am ET), when they host Premier League leaders Arsenal (72 points) at Anfield. Chelsea, will visit Wolves (28 points - 14th place) on Saturday (10 am ET).
How to watch Chelsea vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 3pm ET, TuesdayTV Channel: PeacockOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
A third Chelsea boss, this one interim manager Saltor, is going to take a shot at figuring out the Blues’ best attack corps. Kai Havertz has been selected most often, while Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke, Joao Felix, and Christian Pulisic are all healthy and will hope to start.
Liverpool’s midfield has been a mess to the extent that Jurgen Klopp has been forced to play a mix of very young kids and very experienced players. The biggest thing that would help is the return of one of the younger graybeards. Is 31-year-old Thiago Alcantara fit for a start? That would help a lot.
Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options
QUESTIONABLE: Raheem Sterling (hamstring), Edouard Mendy (shoulder), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (back), Wesley Fofana (thigh). OUT: Thiago Silva (knee), Armando Broja (knee), Cesar Azpilicueta (head)
Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options
QUESTIONABLE: Luis Diaz (knee), Thiago Alcantara (hip). OUT: Calvin Ramsay (knee), Stefan Bajcetic (groin), Naby Keita (muscle)