Struggling Premier League giants Chelsea and Liverpool settled for an uneventful draw at Stamford Bridge this evening.
This was the sixth consecutive time a meeting between the two sides has ended all-square, with the last four failing to produce goals.
Bruno Saltor Grau will take the point on his debut as interim boss, but it leaves Chelsea in the bottom half of the table while Jurgen Klopp’s side failed to close the gap on the top four.
Managerless Chelsea started the game on the front foot. Mateo Kovacic’s early strike that was cleared off the line by Ibrahima Konate set a precedent for the Blues to dictate the opening stages.
Chelsea were the better side for much of the opening period as they fashioned chances, but their profligacy in front of goal stole the spotlight once again.
Reece James seemed to have pinched a lead for the Blues with a volley from the edge of the area in the 26th minute.
However, his strike was chalked off for offside in the build-up, and the fourth official’s decision was backed by VAR.
A cagey first-half affair nearly sparked into life when Joe Gomez unleashed a long-range effort, but Kepa Arrizabalaga was up to the task, parrying around the post with half time on the horizon.
Having lost three consecutive games heading into tonight’s encounter, Klopp would have been desperate for his side to avoid a fourth defeat in a row for the first time in his regime.
However, he had Kovacic’s poor finishing to thank for not going behind in the second half, as the Croat went one-on-one with Alisson but sent his effort flying over the crossbar at the vital moment.
Chelsea kept mounting pressure on the Liverpool backline, and the cracks began to show before Kai Havertz raced through on Alisson’s goal and somehow stuck the ball in the back of the net.
But once again, celebrations were short-lived as a VAR review showed the German needed a hand to slot in his rebound effort following Alisson’s initial smart save.
Joao Felix then failed to hit the target in the closing stages before the referee called time on a rather uneventful outing.
Having managed to take something away from their own backyard this time, Chelsea will now turn their attention to an imminent Champions League quarter-final clash with Real Madrid.
Liverpool, who have a more realistic chance of forcing their way into the top-four, will need to sort themselves out before league leaders Arsenal storm Anfield at the weekend.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (5/10) – Was called into a save in first-half stoppage time but didn’t have much to do aside from that.
Wesley Fofana (7/10) – Despite just returning from injury, he barely missed a beat and was lively on the right side of the back three. Made some decent blocks and also kept Nunez quiet for most of the game.
Kalidou Koulibaly (7/10) – Slotting in at the heart of the defence, his strength, and awareness was key to his side’s clean sheet.
Marc Cucurella (6/10) – Put in a decent shift at left centre-back.
Reece James (7/10) – Was a constant menace down the right flank – per usual. Solid in defence and offence and was unlucky to have his first-half strike chalked off by VAR for a narrow offside decision.
N’Golo Kante (8/10) – A force to be reckoned with on his first start post-injury lay-off. Was everywhere – won everything, and helped Chelsea establish a foothold in the middle of the park. Went off to an ovation that recognised his performance.
Enzo Fernandez (7/10) – A textbook midfield distributor. Although featuring as the deepest of Saltor’s midfield three, his passing range was integral to the team’s build-up play.
Mateo Kovacic (5/10) – Put in a solid display in midfield and was involved in some of the team’s attacking play. Should have buried his golden chance in the second half.
Ben Chilwell (6/10) – His incisive inverted runs from the left flank caused a couple of problems for the Liverpool backline.
Kai Havertz (5/10) – A lacklustre display from the German who was second-best for most of the game. Had the ball in the back of the net but was ruled out for a handball.
Joao Felix (5/10) – Was lively at the beginning of the game but lost possession one too many times and was sometimes guilty of doing too much. Had a couple of chances but couldn’t convert any.
Conor Gallagher (5/10)
Mykhailo Mudryk (4/10)
Raheem Sterling (N/A)
Alisson (7/10) – Made a couple of decent saves to keep his side in the game.
Konstantinos Tsimikas (4/10) – Deputised for Andrew Robertson at left-back but did little to justify his starting berth.
Ibrahima Konate (6/10) – Was solid at the heart of the Liverpool defence.
Joel Matip (5/10) – Lost the ball too many times and was caught napping at times. Struggled to cope with the movement of the Blues front two.
Joe Gomez (5/10) – Forced the Chelsea goalie into a save in the first-half stoppage time, but that was just about it.
Curtis Jones (7/10) – Often found himself in space and was his side’s chief creator. Unlucky not to register a contribution that matched his impressive performance.
Fabinho (6/10) – Had a couple of chances to register but was thwarted by the Chelsea defence. Had a decent game protecting the backline.
Jordan Henderson (5/10) – Did well to dictate the tempo of his side’s game but didn’t affect the match too much.
Darwin Nunez (5/10) – Struggled to impact the game from Fofana’s back pocket – although had a couple of efforts on goal but did little to trouble Arrizabalaga.
Roberto Firmino (4/10) – Was an anonymous figure in the Liverpool frontline.
Diogo Jota (5/10) – Uninfluential and struggled to impact a game crying out for quality.
Andrew Robertson (5/10)
Mohamed Salah (4/10)
James Milner (4/10)
Cody Gakpo (4/10)
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