Chelsea and Liverpool shared the Premier League spoils in a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.
There was a new face in the hotseat for the Blues but the same old pattern as far as what happened on the field is concerned, with the hosts generating chance after chance only to conspire to take none of them.
Both sides had their fair share of opportunities in a bright start, before a ferocious half-volley from Reece James was struck off on account of an earlier offside at the midway point of the first half. The visitors had the brunt of their joy just before the break, with Wesley Fofana to thank for guiding Fabinho’s goalbound effort beyond the far post.
There was a familiar feeling as the boys in royal blue headed for the dressing room at the interval, given they had enjoyed a wealth of chances but typically had the sum of zero to show for their efforts.
It looked like that had been rectified just five minutes after the resumption, but the ball had made its way past Alisson Becker by virtue of Kai Havertz’s hand. After that chances were effectively at a premium, with both sides lacking that distinctive killer instinct and finishing touch.
It was far from a classic and on the balance of play the Pensioners will feel like this was two points dropped ahead of a visit to Molineux to face Wolverhampton Wanderers. In the meantime, here is what Absolute Chelsea made of the players’ performances against Liverpool this evening…
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 7/10
Shared some culpability for the loss against Aston Villa at the weekend, but this was much more the standard expected. Never truly troubled inside the box but alert and equal to danger from distance.
Wesley Fofana – 8/10
An excellent block to deny Fabinho on the stroke of half-time was the highlight, but this was an all around impressive performance from the young Frenchman. His presence and aggression transforms the right channel, with the data to back it up. Some excellent tackles and competent defensive awareness to boot.
Kalidou Koulibaly – 7/10
The odd shaky moment here and there but this turn was sufficient enough from the Senegalese giant. Aerially imposing with a handful of last-ditch contributions.
Marc Cucurella – 7/10
Hounded for his last appearance, which he swept under the carpet pretty adequately here. The Reds scarcely found any joy by running at the Spaniard and the anticipatory front-footed defending was pleasing to see from a man so down on his confidence and his luck.
Reece James – 7/10
If anything was to win this laborious league match, it would have been the venomous drive he unleashed by way of his foot like a traction engine. Completely unfussed at the back but again there did feel a sense he wasn’t given total liberty to get forward and deploy the assets Chelsea fans know he has in his arsenal.
Enzo Fernández – 7/10
Pretty tidy in the engine room, exerting a calm, composed control on proceedings and mucking in to do the dirty work in the centre of the park. Physically impressive from a man of his tender years and relatively limited top flight experience.
Mateo Kovacic – 4/10
Caught cold in possession more times than this writer has had hot dinners, and the manner of his spurned opportunity when one on one with the goalkeeper left a sour taste in the mouth. It’d be fair to say Liverpool were hardly blessed with a dynamic midfield on paper, and yet the Croatian wasn’t at the races at all. Really poor for someone of his stature.
N’Golo Kanté – 8/10 (70)
Two thirds of the world is covered by water – from there you know the rest. In his first start since August, the two-time Premier League winner and captain on the evening was all over the Merseysiders like a rash. Tireless in his recovery of possession and injecting some impetus with his direct, driving runs. Seventy minutes under the belt against a high-intensity rival is some going indeed for a long-term absentee.
Ben Chilwell – 6/10 (78)
Started off flying down the left flank but his influence waned as the night wore on. A couple of moments of miscontrol was the source of some frustration for spectators.
João Félix – 6/10 (84)
Great run at the start lit the fixture up and there were a couple of further neat moments where he showed glimpses of his genuine quality. But, as has characterised his short Chelsea career, there were moments of selfishness and questionable decision-making that dragged a good performance down to a distinctly average one.
Kai Havertz – 4/10
Excellent pressing, but the rest of his game was more depressing than anything else. His link-up play was more detriment than dynamic, and the weight of his shooting and passing was nothing short of atrocious. Evidently he had forgot to pack his Skittles for Stamford Bridge.
Conor Gallagher – 5/10 (70)
Added some energy and a fresh body but his attacking output in particular was poor, with a number of offenses dying on account of his wayward passing.
Mykhailo Mudryk – N/A (78)
Raheem Sterling – N/A (84)
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