Chelsea announce start of post-Potter era with instant reprise of season's goalscoring woes
Chelsea (0) 0
Liverpool (0) 0
Whatever happened to one of the classic Premier League fixtures?
These are two big names but the table does not lie. This was a mid-table match in reality, if not in reputation – an error-strewn mess which bore scant resemblance to the seismic contests between the sides in years gone by.
Neither side looks capable of making the top four now. At least Chelsea have a shot at more unlikely Champions League glory against Real Madrid.
The name of the man in the dugout has changed, but Spaniard Bruno Saltor could not inspire any more of a cutting edge than his dismissed predecessor.
Graham Potter may have left the building but the goal-shy malaise remains. The Bridge has not had a vintage season in terms of net-bulging action.
Whatever the xG says, the naked eye could tell you this was a game in which Chelsea always looked the likelier scorers. But they still couldn’t manage it and faded disappointingly in the second half after a promising start.
A Liverpool team suddenly bereft of confidence after three straight defeats following the 7-0 rout of Man United looked there for the taking. They had a much-changed line-up, with Jurgen Klopp ripping up his usual back four to try and stem the tide of disappointing results.
But they looked as vulnerable as ever, almost from the word go, and the chances started to pile up for the team now led by interim boss Saltor.
Joao Felix almost carved out a goal in an opening burst, and only a goalline clearance by Ibrahima Konate denied Mateo Kovacic after he had rounded Alisson.
The goalkeeper then did well to block a Kai Havertz stab after Ben Chilwell had driven low to the near post. The German also skewed wide when well placed.
Liverpool offered little until just before the break, when long range efforts from Darwin Nunez and Joe Gomez were both comfortably dealt with by Kepa and Fabinho’s goalbound effort was deflected wide by the head of Wesley Fofana.
The theme continued after the interval, with Kovacic skying over when well placed, and the luckless Havertz deflecting a ball into the net with his arm – VAR picking up on the felony.
After that, it was as if both teams had abandoned all hope of scoring. A match that could never quite lift itself out of the humdrum ended as we began to suspect it would a long time before it was all over.
Blues: (3-4-2-1) Arrizabalaga – Fofana, Koulibaly, Cucurella – James, Fernandez, Kante (Gallagher 69), Chilwell (Mudryk 78) – Havertz, Kovacic – Joao Felix (Sterling 85). Subs not used: Mendy, Badiashile, Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek, Mount, Madueke
Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson – Gomez, Konate, Matip, Tsimikas (Robertson 65) – Jones (Gakpo 79), Fabinho, Henderson – Jota, Firmino (Salah 65), Nunez (Milner 79). Subs not used: Kelleher, Carvalho, Arthur, Phillips, Alexander-Arnold