Chelsea traveled to Liverpool to face a fully loaded Anfield for yet another Premier League match. Both teams are vying to prove their worth as title challengers, with Chelsea seeming to be in a new era, and Liverpool trying to rediscover the form that made them European and Premier League Champions. Chelsea came into the match with excellent momentum after easily dispatching Arsenal away in the London Derby, but Liverpool away was a much sterner test for Chelsea’s title credentials.
The Blues had a tumultuous match against the Reds but walked away with a point. Regardless of context, a point at Anfield is a good thing. However, the context of this 1-1 draw at Anfield – playing the second half with only 10 men – makes it an incredible result and shows the pedigree Chelsea possess to win the Premier League in 2021/2022. Here are the five takeaways from Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea.
Anthony Taylor makes the biggest impact on the match
Here we are, once again. Another match officiated by Anthony Taylor and more ridiculous decisions and outcomes. Make no mistake, this is becoming a borderline pattern with Mr. Taylor’s officiating. He has a history of making decisions that drastically impact and change matches – specifically when Chelsea are playing – and he seems to want to be an official that controls a match in all the wrong ways. Simply put, he is displaying borderline negligence of duty and competence as an official.
This was highlighted by his inability to conduct a thorough review of the VAR monitor, which is a task that specifically requires a thorough and full-context review from the run of play leading to the review itself. Taylor did not review the VAR monitor for more than one second, saw one freeze-frame of one moment from a 20 second run of play, and immediately turned around and decided it was a penalty kick for Liverpool and a sending off for Reece James. Taylor had made his mind up before even watching the VAR monitor. It is shameful officiating, and the red card decision is simply a farce.
11-man Chelsea controlled Liverpool
Before the ignominious red card decision from Anthony Taylor, Chelsea were comfortably in control of the match and had the deserved lead from an incredible, looping headed goal by Kai Havertz that was assisted from a corner kick. Liverpool had few chances up until this point and looked second best.
Chelsea are continuing with the same system that just won the Champions League, and the continuity of playing the same way are starting to show just how good this team is and how they are ready to challenge for multiple titles this season. Conversely, Liverpool’s past forms and abilities in attack seemed to wane in this match, and until the red card and penalty kick decision, seemed to not have many great chances or ideas to break down the highly resolute Chelsea defence.
Tuchel’s backline is made of steel
Chelsea being reduced to 10 men required Thomas Tuchel to prioritize the draw and to preserve what the club had going into half time. Havertz was subbed off for Thiago Silva and the Blues continued to play with the three centre backs and two wingbacks, and left Romelu Lukaku all but on his own in attack. All 10 Blues players were behind the ball for most of the second half and this tactical plan worked to perfection.
Again and again the Liverpool squad controlled the ball, created some chances, but never had the final answer to break down the Chelsea defence and Edouard Mendy. There is now a theme with Tuchel and this Chelsea squad against top competition: the defence is always made of steel and able to stand resolute in the face of clear attacking threats.
This theme is one that will continue to lead Chelsea in the right direction of their title pursuits. Although the red card unfortunately ended most any chance the Blues had to pick up three points at Anfield, the fact they played 45+ minutes with 10 men and seemed comfortable for a draw is a gigantic positive from this match and should not be overlooked when Chelsea’s title credentials are being evaluated.
Thomas Tuchel is the tactical mastermind
Jurgen Klopp truly did not have the answer to Tuchel’s half time changes. This cannot be overstated: the highly attacking-minded Klopp could not find any answer to break down a 10 man Chelsea squad in his own backyard. Thos was a classical performance and decision-making from the Blues manager to preserve the point. In a larger context, the inability of Klopp and co. to find the goal to win the match shows a distinct turning point for Chelsea. In the past several seasons under different management, it is hard to feel assured that the Blues would have been able to hold on for a half at Anfield with 10 men, and instead would have been more likely to concede more goals.
But not under Thomas Tuchel. There is more to Tuchel’s success from a formation or player role standpoint. He has given back the intangibles to this Chelsea side. There is determination, grit, aggression, nastiness, and coherent team play once again. This has been orchestrated by the mastermind – Thomas Tuchel – and it was clear that his management was the biggest factor for the Blues getting one point over the weekend. Just a masterclass performance and job by Tuchel. He was arguably the man of the match. If managers were able to win man of the match, then it was clearly Tuchel who would’ve taken the plaudits at full time.
Havertz coming into his own
Havertz scored an expertly executed, looping header to give the Blues the1-0 lead, and it symbolised the turning point he has reached at this fledgling stage of his Chelsea career.
The ups and downs, loss of form, injuries, and Covid plagued him early on as a Blue, but he has progressively improved with Tuchel at the helm. From the performance at Crystal Palace, the Champions League Final, and now at Anfield, it is clear he is a supremely talented player and is showing the promise he was hyped to have prior to his first appearance for the Blues.
This could be one of the keys for Chelsea to win the title. They will absolutely need to see more of the same progression and form from the German wonderkid. It will be interesting to see how the partnership between Lukaku and Havertz blossoms as the season progresses, but early indications are that each player will improve each other and form a deadly mix of talent and goal involvements. This could be the season that Kai Havertz explodes onto the Premier League scene.
Written by Travis Flock (@Crossroads_CFC)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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