Liverpool’s first big test of the season ended in a somewhat frustrating draw as the Reds drew against 10-man Chelsea despite dominating the entire second half.
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Premier League (3), Anfield
August 28, 2021
Goals: Salah pen 45+4′; Havertz 21′
Red card: James 45+2′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
Nothing he could do about the goal, which looped well over him. Some good aerial takes and punches clear under pressure. Decent save from Kovacic late on.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
Beauty of a crossfield ball for the early Hendo chance. A very back-and-forth battle with Alonso which didn’t always go Trent’s way to be fair, but he stuck at it and has successes of his own, delivering a few dangerous balls in.
Tried to force the issue late on but it didn’t quite come off.
Joel Matip – 7
Brilliant arm-waving after a foul early on. Hit the bar from a yard out.
Again a little hit and miss with runners behind him, but dealt well with the threat in front and cleared everything up quickly after the break. Big block on Lukaku too.
Virgil van Dijk – 8
Huge cheer when he shouldered Lukaku out of a run down the channel and easily took control.
Mostly won his battles and boomed in a low shot from range which was saved. Again a total machine in covering behind, clearing lines and heading out.
Andy Robertson – 6
Beaten for the goal with the header but it wasn’t really a duel he lost, so much as he was racing to get in position where Havertz already was.
Did struggle a bit on his return though, with sloppy passes and a mis-hit corner – Kostas would have eyed it beadily, no doubt. Robbo will be fine a few games down the line.
Fabinho – 7
Generally tidy, probably lucky not to get booked early on though… and then again later in the game.
Decent strike saved after he pushed on a lot more second half against the 10 men.
Harvey Elliott – 8 – Man of the Match
Fired one just wide, played a couple of really good passes into the box and won about four tackles – all in the first 15 minutes. What a start on such a big occasion.
Was very hard-working, looked to make clever runs outside Salah with regularity and didn’t look out of place in the slightest.
Jordan Henderson – 7
Should have scored an early left-footed effort but steered it wide. Pulled up by the ref a few times which our skipper took exception to.
Was playing left of the three but was frequently popping up right to create overloads – not always with great success on the end pass, though.
Bent a great effort just wide on the hour.
Mohamed Salah – 7
Absolutely cool amid a very heated five minutes before the break to bury his penalty.
A bit frustrated at times that fouls were given against him on Alonso in particular, but he was frequently making runs in behind and it almost came together for him a few times.
Roberto Firmino – 7
Back with a big rest in him, Bobby was non-stop for 40 minutes – harassing, dropping deep, tackling and linking play really well.
Looked as though he went off with an injury, however. Hopefully nothing serious.
Sadio Mane – 7
Really busy in the quick attacking play, got involved in most of the Reds’ best link-up work and had an important role in winning the penalty.
So hard-working to close down the defence over and over and keep Chelsea penned back, but there should have been a few better touches or passes when it mattered most.
Sometimes cut in and slowed play down when we needed a faster transition to get at Chelsea‘s low block defence.
Diogo Jota (on for Firmino, 40′) – 5 – Header just over. Not hugely involved and his first touch wasn’t great too often.
Thiago (on for Henderson, 73′) – 6 – Attempted a few passes into the box which didn’t quite come off. Perhaps should’ve been on earlier.
Kostas Tsimikas (on for Robertson, 84′) – N/A – A few crosses, not much time.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Gomez, Konate, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita, Minamino
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Brought back all his big guns and made the bold call to go with Elliott.
Most of those were good picks, certainly none were bad. The boss clearly got the players cooled down and playing the ball quickly after half-time, which was necessary.
The second change could perhaps have come a little earlier but it was the right one, as was the final call to switch left-backs for a bit more energy and better crossing.
Liverpool should have found a way through against 10 men in a whole half, but it’s tough to pinpoint what Klopp could have done from the sidelines.
He no doubt was screaming his head off to keep the tempo up and the pitch stretched, but it all closed down somewhat in the final 20 or so.
Nothing dismal, but a disappointment at two points dropped at home even so.