Following the termination of Graham Potter’s contract as Head Coach of Chelsea on Sunday, the Blues were looking to see an upturn in results and performances – with a crunch Champions League clash against Real Madrid on the horizon. Tuesday night’s rescheduled fixture saw them entertain Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, with the team from Merseyside looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat at the weekend away to Manchester City.
CHE: Arrizabalaga; Cucurella, Koulibaly, Fofana; Chilwell, Kovacic, Fernandez, Kante, James; Havertz, Felix
LIV: Alisson; Tsimikas, Matip, Konate, Gomez; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Nunez, Firmino, Jota
Chelsea looked to impose themselves against a Liverpool team that had made many changes to their previous Starting XI – with the Blues seemingly much more settled due to the inclusion of Kante in the first team from the off for the first time since before Potter took the reigns.
The Blues had the better of the chances, with Mateo Kovacic seeing his attempt cleared off the line by Ibrahima Konate early on before shooting wildly over when through on goal after the break. Kai Havertz 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.
Liverpool barely tested Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, and the result won’t help their pursuit for a place in the Premier League’s top four. Jurgen Klopp will still have more questions than answers about his best eleven ahead of their upcoming match against Arsenal.
Unfortunately, this was a game that descended into mediocrity although Chelsea had the opportunities to win the game and give interim manager Bruno Saltor a morale-boosting win as the hunt goes on for Potter’s successor.
Felix showed all his skills on the ball, but tended to hold on to possession for too long and make poor decisions at crucial moments. Mateo Kovacic demonstrated that despite his many qualities as a midfield man, ruthless finishing is not among them – much like the rest of the forward line of late.
The key takeaway 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. The Frenchman was quickly back to his old routine as he won tackles, pinched possession and set up attacks – notably the one for Kovacic, though the Croatian blazed it over the bar with only Alisson to beat.
The situation at Chelsea feels very much like it is in limbo, as the club are waiting for a new manager and the meeting with the Champions League holders. In truth, there was little excitement to draw from this dull draw.