Chelsea saw out the entire second half with 10 men to earn a 1-1 draw with Liverpool in Saturday’s contest between two Premier League title hopefuls.
The sides entered the game with identical records of six points, five goals scored and none conceded from their first two games, and there was nothing between them at Anfield.
Kai Havertz opened the scoring for Chelsea with a sublime header, but the flow of the game changed following a huge call by referee Anthony Taylor in first-half stoppage time.
Reece James was sent off for a handball on the line, with Mohamed Salah converting the subsequent penalty, but Liverpool could not make their possession dominance count.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 28, 2021
Jurgen Klopp’s men had gone four games without conceding in the league stretching back into last season, but their defence was breached by Chelsea with 24 minutes on the clock.
Havertz made a late run to the near post and brilliantly sent James’ delivery looping over Alisson for his first competitive Chelsea goal since netting the winner in May’s Champions League final.
A big chance went begging for Mason Mount when flashing a shot across the face of goal and that proved a big moment as Liverpool were level late in the first half.
Joel Matip headed the ball against the crossbar and Sadio Mane’s follow-up bounced off James’ leg and onto his arm, which the referee deemed worthy of a penalty and red card.
Salah made no mistake in tucking away from 12 yards and momentum was with Liverpool for the vast majority of the second period.
Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy was required to keep out attempts from Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and the returning Andy Robertson, while Jordan Henderson fired just wide.
Thomas Tuchel’s men gave their opponents a couple of scares when getting forward, with substitute Mateo Kovacic denied by Alisson late on, though there was to be no winning goal at either end as both teams’ perfect starts came to an end.
14 – Mohamed Salah has scored each of his last 14 Premier League penalties – only Matt Le Tissier (23 in a row between 1994 and 2000) has had a longer consecutive run of scoring from the spot without missing in Premier League history. Assured. #LIVCHE https://t.co/jAX50f8l4a
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 28, 2021
What does it mean? Nothing to separate title contenders
It is far too early in the season to bill this a title decider of any sorts, but this was a chance for one of these sides to lay down a serious marker heading into the first international break of the campaign.
Chelsea won here on their most recent visit five months ago, albeit with that game taking place in different circumstances behind closed doors, and they were pretty dominant until the James incident.
Liverpool looked like being the only winners from that point, but a failure to convert any of their 14 shots in the second half – with Mendy saving six of those – means the sides remain level on points and goal difference after three games.
Hav some of that!
Chelsea’s Champions League final hero Havertz did brilliantly to get into a pocket of space and glance on James’ corner for the opener, though only he knows whether he was going for goal or perhaps just attempting to flick the ball on.
Either way, that was the former Bayer Leverkusen midfielder’s first headed league goal since May 2020 and was his fifth goal since Tuchel took charge in January – only Mount (six) has scored more.
Reds left frustrated
Full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, starting together for the first time this season following the latter’s return from injury, were a threat throughout down the flanks as they created nine big chances between them.
Creating opportunities was not Liverpool’s issue, but rather the ability to put the ball in the back of the net. Incredibly, every Liverpool player to start the game had at least one shot, yet their only goal came from the penalty spot.
Key Opta Facts
– Only Brentford (15) are on a longer unbeaten run in league matches within England’s top four tiers than Liverpool, who extended their run without a defeat to 13 matches with their draw with Chelsea (W10 D3).
– Mohamed Salah’s equaliser for Liverpool was the 14th penalty in a row the Egyptian has scored in the Premier League – only Matt Le Tissier (23 in a row between 1994 and 2000) has had a longer consecutive run of scoring from the spot without missing in Premier League history.
– Since Thomas Tuchel took over Chelsea in late January, only Mason Mount (6) has netted more goals for the club across all competitions than fellow German Kai Havertz (5).
– At the age of 18 years and 146 days, Harvey Elliott became the third youngest Liverpool player ever to start against Chelsea, after John McLaughlin in 1970 (18y 52d) and Raheem Sterling in 2012 (17y 339d).
Liverpool travel to Leeds United in their next Premier League match after the two-week break, while Chelsea are at home to Aston Villa.
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