Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen were top-notch as ten-men Chelsea held off Liverpool to a 1-1 stalemate at Anfield on Saturday evening.
Liverpool started the game on the front foot at Anfield but it was Chelsea who broke the deadlock close to the halfway mark in the first period when Kai Havertz sent a glancing header past Alisson and into the back of the net to deal the hosts a setback. The Reds, though, rallied strongly and were awarded a great chance to equalise when Reece James appeared to have blocked a goal-bound effort using his arm.
After a VAR check, referee Anthony Taylor awarded Liverpool a penalty and sent the Chelsea full-back off, with Salah levelling things up from the spot. With a man down and N’Golo Kante taken off due to injury, the Blues were under the pump as Liverpool pressed and pressed to force through a winning goal.
However, Chelsea’s rearguard stood firm in the face of pressure, even as Diogo Jota and Virgil van Dijk had a couple of chances, to ensure that the spoils were shared on the evening at Anfield. It was a resolute display from the visitors while Jurgen Klopp & co. will have been disappointed not to have made the most of their numerical advantage for half a game.
Here are our player ratings for both Liverpool and Chelsea stars after a gruelling contest on Saturday.
Alisson Becker: 6.5/10
Not a lot he could have done to stop Havertz’s looping header from going into the back of the net. Was not tested a great deal from that point on but was alert to any threat in his box and made one decent stop in the second period.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7.5/10
Looked a threat each time he pushed forward and created a chance for Jordan Henderson in the first period with a sumptuous cross-field pass and played several such dangerous balls into the box. Did his bit defensively as well.
Joel Matip: 7/10
Had a few nervy moments up against Lukaku but largely fared well at the back. Hit the crossbar from a headed effort leading to the equalising penalty and made a crucial block on the Chelsea no. 9 in the second period.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
Virgil van Dijk vs. Chelsea
92% Pass accuracy
3/7 Accurate long passes
1/3 Shots on target
4/4 Ground duels won
3/3 Aerial duels won
The idea that van Dijk isn't still the best in the business is laughable. That's all. pic.twitter.com/Somr2CrlEw
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) August 28, 2021
Relished his battle against Lukaku as he went toe-to-toe with the Chelsea hitman without really giving him an inch. Passing was as crisp as it is usually, but still marshaled the backline well and even forced a save in the second period.
Andrew Robertson: 6/10
Back into the starting XI at the expense of Kostas Tsimikas, the Scotsman wasn’t exactly at his best as his delivery was found wanting at times. More settled in the second half.
Harvey Elliott: 7/10
Another engaging display from the youngster in his new role in midfield. Fired a shot just wide off the mark early in the game and made a number of positive forward runs. Worked tirelessly off the ball as well. Promising signs for Liverpool.
18 years old and leaving grown men on the floor 👏
Harvey Elliott is a star 🌟 pic.twitter.com/nfycbIx7MX
— Goal (@goal) August 28, 2021
Back into the side after missing the last game, the Brazilian did what he does best in the middle, putting out fires before they became dangerous. Strong in his challenges as usual and perhaps lucky to have avoided an early booking. Things got much easier after N’Golo Kante’s substitution. Ventured forward and even had a shot saved.
Jordan Henderson: 6/10
Did not look at his best in this left-of-centre role in the middle of the park. Needed to do better with his chance after being set up by Alexander-Arnold. Worked hard as usual, but the quality on the ball was lacking at times.
Mohamed Salah: 7/10
Caused Alonso some trouble but was not able to make the most of it as he was largely kept away from the goal by Chelsea. Did well under pressure to convert from the penalty spot to equalise. Created a chance for Jota after the break.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 28, 2021
Roberto Firmino: 6/10
Returning to the starting XI in place of Jota, the Brazilian was his busy self, pressing Chelsea from the front. Taken off with an injury just 40 minutes into the contest, though.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
Got the better of Reece James on a couple of occasions in the first half and then played a role in winning the penalty. More threatening once Chelsea were reduced to ten men but the end product wasn’t always there.
Diogo Jota: 5.5/10
On for Firmino just before the half-time break. Headed over from a decent position in the second half.
Thiago Alcantara: N/A
On for Henderson for the final 15 minutes or so.
Kostas Tsimikas: N/A
Late substitute for Robertson.
Edouard Mendy: 7.5/10
Most saves made in a single Premier League game this season:
◉ Edouard Mendy (6 vs Liverpool)
◉ Illan Meslier (6 vs Everton)
◉ Nick Pope (6 vs Burnley)
◉ Hugo Lloris (6 vs Wolves)
Keeping busy. pic.twitter.com/54XQ15HeUH
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 28, 2021
No chance whatsoever from Salah’s penalty, but made a few crucial saves after that to keep Chelsea in the game while he was also not afraid to charge out of his line to deal with any danger. Booked for dissent in the first half.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 8/10
A captain’s display from Azpilicueta who defended brilliantly from start to finish. Made several good blocks throughout including one on Firmino. Moved to right wing-back after the sending off and was secure on the flank as well.
Andreas Christensen: 8/10
A model of focus and concentration at the back for Chelsea as he positioned himself in the right place at the right time to cut out attacks or make key interventions. Dug deep and stood tall under the barrage of pressure after the break. The impending new contract is very much deserved.
Antonio Rudiger: 8/10
Booked in the first half for dissent after the penalty. Was solid on either side of that, despite one or two iffy moments with the ball. Did very well to keep Salah at bay, especially in the second half. Solid and reliable in the face of pressure.
Reece James: 5/10
RED CARD FOR REECE JAMES, PENALTY FOR LIVERPOOL! 🔴 pic.twitter.com/8HPngr29xs
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 28, 2021
Got the assist for the opening goal with a well-hit cross. Had his fair share of problems against Mane in the opening exchanges. Then gave away the penalty by blocking a goal-bound effort with his arm, which resulted in a red card.
Another impressive display from UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award winner as he used the ball really well when in possession and did the dirty work when Liverpool were in the ascendancy. Dropped deep and played his part in salvaging a point after going down to ten men.
N’Golo Kante: 7/10
Reinstated to the lineup, the Frenchman’s evening came to a halt after half-time with yet another injury. During his time on the pitch though, Kante was absolutely bossing in the middle of the park, cutting out attacks, winning back possession, launching forward moves. Chelsea will be hoping that the issue is nothing serious.
Marcos Alonso: 6.5/10
Had his task cut out against Salah, who was also supported by Alexander-Arnold and Elliott. This meant Alonso was largely pinned back and was not allowed to push forward as he likes. Not always convincing but did his job defensively.
Mason Mount: 7/10
A bundle of energy throughout, helped Chelsea drive forward in the first period and worked hard to relieve pressure in the second half when Liverpool were in control.
Romelu Lukaku: 6/10
A few moments of neat link-up and a blocked shot in the second half aside, it was largely quiet from the Chelsea record signing, although it did not help that his team played with a man down for 45 minutes.
Kai Havertz: 7/10
Looked lively and posed a threat on the break. Brilliant header to get Chelsea up and running, leaving Alisson with no chance of stopping it. Unlucky to be sacrificed at half-time after James’ sending off.
Thiago Silva: 7.5/10
🔎 | FOCUS
Thiago Silva impressed at the heart of Chelsea's defence after coming off the bench:
— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) August 28, 2021
Solid after replacing Havertz at half-time. Led the backline well, kept things organised, and cut out threats with ease. Did not look like it aas his first competitive appearance of the season at all.
Mateo Kovacic: 6/10
Replaced the injured Kante at half-time. Fresh legs helped Chelsea in keeping the hosts at bay for the second period. Also forced Alisson into a save.
Trevoh Chalobah: N/A
Late substitute for Jorginho.