Ten-man Chelsea produced a masterclass in the art of defending to hold Liverpool to a 1-1 draw in their English Premier League matchday three encounter, preserving both sides’ unbeaten starts to the 2021/22 season and returning them to the summit of the league standings.
Both sides came into the game with identical 100% records from their first two games and were looking to pull clear at the top of the league. Chelsea were looking to maintain their impressive start to the season as Liverpool looked to win their first three matches of the season for the fourth consecutive season. Chelsea welcomed French midfielder N’Golo Kante to their starting lineup after the midfielder started from the bench against Arsenal, and Liverpool started with the impressive 18-year-old Harvey Elliott in midfielder after his brilliant performance against Burnley last week.
Elliott had the first chance of note in the game as he fizzed a shot narrowly wide of the left upright in the opening exchanges. Chelsea were on the back foot for much of the opening minutes, but went in front through their Champions League final hero, Kai Havertz, in the 21st minute. Chelsea defender Reece James swung in a corner and Havertz’s run towards the front post was untracked, and the German’s glancing header looped up over a stranded Alisson in the Liverpool goal. After Chelsea took the lead, they defended well and Liverpool looked vulnerable on the counter attack with Mason Mount spurning a good chance from a tight angle, and indecisiveness in the final third cost them a number of chances.
Chelsea were eventually pegged back as a moment of chaos led to Liverpool getting an equaliser. A cornerkick from Andy Robertson in the first minute of added time led to a pinball in the Chelsea box before miscommunication between Edouard Mendy and Marcus Alonso caused the ball to drop for Joel Matip to prod goalwards, but the ball was eventually blocked on the line by Chelsea’s James. The referee Anthony Taylor adjudged that the ball came off the Englishman’s arm and sent him off, also awarding Liverpool a penalty which Mohamed Salah dispatched clinically to level matters for the Reds in the 5th minute of added time.
In a bid to balance the game going into the second half, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel sent on Mateo Kovacic and Thiago Silva in place of the injured N’Golo Kante and goalscorer Havertz. Chelsea endured an onslaught from Liverpool in the second half as they were forced to defend very deep to prevent their opponents from overrunning them. Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy made six saves as Chelsea faced 11 shots in the second half while only playing two of their own. Tuchel rushed onto the pitch to high five and hug his players after they picked up a pleasing point against Liverpool in front of a boisterous Anfield.
In their post-match press duties, both managers agreed that the red card for James was harsh, but Tuchel was the more pleased of the two because his side maintained their unbeaten start to the season. Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk maintained his incredible record of remaining unbeaten in 50 Premier League home games at Anfield. Both sides head into the international break on seven points from a possible nine, showing their title credentials.