Liverpool squandered a chance to maintain their 100 percent start to the season against a stubborn Chelsea side, it left a twinge of disappointment but there were also positives to take.
Jurgen Klopp‘s men were back on home soil for the final game before the international break in a meeting between two unbeaten sides, which would remain the case come full time.
Kai Havertz opened the scoring before chaos in the box ensued on the cusp of halftime to see Reece James handed a red card and Mohamed Salah converting from the penalty spot.
And while there would be 45 minutes to take advantage of a 10-man Chelsea, they held firm and Liverpool cut frustrated figures at the final whistle.
Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Jeff Goulding (@ShanklysBoys1), who was at Anfield, and Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) to discuss some positives from the draw, the blunt attack and the feeling of two points dropped.
JEFF: The first was Salah’s pen. He was under huge pressure there, the delay before he got to take it, the Chelsea players’ protests, Mendy’s attempts to psyche him out, and the sheer magnitude of the moment.
Team a goal down, the stroke of halftime, the hum of expectation, and he just calmly goes about his business and slots it home. I was so nervous I could hardly watch, convinced he’d miss. Mo, though, so reliable.
HENRY: At the other end of the pitch, I thought Van Dijk and Matip were close to perfect up against Lukaku, even if the latter had a brief period where he lost his head slightly.
What will be forgotten is just how high the standard was in the opening third of the game and Liverpool played their part in that.
JEFF: The next is not a moment really but a performance. There were so many you could single out, Trent, the Van Dijk-Matip axis in defence, or Hendo screaming and barking orders, but Harvey Elliott, wow!
In a summer marked by endless complaints about our lack of activity in the transfer window and the failure to replace Gini, this lad may end up putting everyone in their place.
His performance yesterday built on previous displays and the faith shown in him by Klopp speaks volumes. He was involved in everything and you just get this sense he’s the next big thing. Long way to go, and a lot for him to do in order for him to maintain his standards, but he’s got everything he needs to become a huge player for us.
HENRY:I too thought Elliott was the main standout, considering how he seamlessly fitted into such a big game. He looked like he belonged there, which bodes so well moving forward.
Some players just have ‘it’ – whatever that is! – and it certainly applies to him. He was both brave on the ball and kept things simple, as well as working relentlessly off it.
JOANNA: I’m going to jump in on Jeff and Henry’s mention of the Van Dijk-Matip partnership here, I thought they were brilliant – minus a few hairy moments from the latter.
They didn’t give much room to Lukaku and they were there to block if he did manage to find some, with Van Dijk particularly catching the eye and leaving no doubt as to what he can achieve on return from injury.
JEFF: There were a number of factors here, I thought at times Mane looked like he struggled to hit his usual heights and our final ball let us down. That said we went close a few times.
In the end, we have to acknowledge that with Chelsea down to ten, they were going to defend for their lives, and Tuchel got his second-half tactics spot on. It was frustrating but we’re talking about two of this seasons title challengers and it was never going to be easy.
I thought after a ferocious first 15 minutes of the second half we ran out of steam, and ideas and they defended brilliantly. It happens, it’s early days and we’ll improve.
JOANNA: I definitely agree with you there Jeff on the stubbornness of Chelsea and how 10-men can certainly make like trickier and Tuchel’s team knew how to do just that.
They gave us little space and deserve credit, I had just hoped to see Liverpool put their foot on their throats but you didn’t feel like they were under a constant barrage of pressure.
HENRY: It was a slightly disappointing attacking performance, but I wouldn’t go too overboard about it. I thought Liverpool were doing very well before Chelsea scored out of nowhere, looking slick in the final third.
Firmino going off arguably blunted Liverpool’s cohesion – Jota really struggled to get into the game when he came on – and credit must go to Chelsea for a fantastic defensive performance. Sometimes the opposition are just better on the day.
Mane was undoubtedly disappointing, however, and I am slightly concerned that he has peaked as a player, even though I’m wary of being knee-jerk. He lost the ball, kept falling over and was guilty of slowing things down too often. It was very last season!
JOANNA: I’ve been on the new forward signing team throughout the summer, you just feel like we need that fresh face who can offer something different and a spark.
It will not be the end of Liverpool’s title hopes or anything drastic should no signing arrive, but it would be ideal to keep things fresh.
JEFF: I think Klopp would like to bring in another forward player. It would be great to have another option, but what we have is amongst the best in Europe. People worry about injuries, and Bobby picking up a knock is a concern.
However, as Joanna also pointed out, I don’t think there’s any need to panic if the window closes without us adding anyone else. I look at what Klopp achieved with an injury-ravaged squad last season, in empty stadiums and I have to think that with Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip back, the addition of Konate and the emergence of Elliott, we have the foundations at the back that will allow the forwards to prosper in a way they couldn’t last season. Having fans back will be immense as the season progresses.
HENRY: To close out the discussion, an attacking signing is needed, in my opinion, simply to freshen things up, as Joanna mentioned, and ensure there are more options if someone like Salah, god forbid, gets injured.
And did it feel like 2 points dropped?
JEFF: Definitely two points dropped. Any team with ambitions to win the title wants to win their home games against their rivals.
When the opposition loses a player, you have to be disappointed not to take advantage of that.
Leaving the ground I felt flat, like many others. But we lost this game last season and you have to acknowledge it’s early and that we will get better. We take the point and move on. 35 to go and a lot to play for.
JOANNA: It’s a weird one because in games like these you debate it all in your own mind before the game and a draw would not have been disastrous by any means, but how it all unfolded changes the perspective.
At home, against 10 men and a title rival, we did let the opportunity pass us by and it was made all the more frustrating by our inability to finish when the game was in our final third.
But as Jeff rightly says there, we’ll get better and you just have to take the result on the chin and push on.
HENRY: It is definitely two points dropped – when you play against 10 men for half the game, it has to be.
That being said, the key is still not losing to your title rivals and Liverpool avoided that. I’ll be honest, I think Chelsea would’ve won without the sending off – they were excellent throughout and look like genuine contenders.
But seven points from three games is still a good start and one of the hardest games of the season is out of the way — Liverpool will improve once they improve their match sharpness, I have no doubt about that.
But sign an attacker, please.