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A Caicedo ‘explainer’ & Salah’s strop – 5 talking points from Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool

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Liverpool took a hard-fought point from a tough Premier League opener as they played out a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The Reds opened the scoring through Luis Diaz early in the first half but were pegged back by Axel Disasi before its end.

And that is how an exciting, occasionally end-to-end contest in the capital ultimately finished despite chances for both teams in the secon dhalf.

Check out five things we learned from a memorable first game of the new campaign.

 

Stroppy Mohamed Salah can’t complain

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 13, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is substituted during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It would be fair to say that Mohamed Salah was not best pleased about being subbed off with in the 77th minute at Stamford Bridge.

But this was clearly a change made with his best interests at heart, even if his angry reaction to the manager’s decision showed he did not agree.

With a gruelling pre-season only recently completed, Klopp is right to look to manage his players’ fitness and minutes in the early part of the campaign as he looks to avoid a repeat of last season’s injury issues.

What’s more, Ben Doak‘s freshness and enthusiasm gave Liverpool fresh attacking impetus in the final 20 minutes of the game when they had previously been drifting.

With a point secured from a tricky opening fixture, Salah will surely ultimately agree that it was the right call to bring him off.

No doubt part of his annoyance was knowing that his run of scoring on every opening day was over.

 

Moises Caicedo’s importance to both sides underlined

2PAW3CP Moises Caicedo #25 of Brighton & Hove Albion during the Premier League match Leeds United vs Brighton and Hove Albion at Elland Road, Leeds, United Kingdom, 11th March 2023 (Photo by Flynn Duggan/News Images)

If anyone wanted to know exactly why Chelsea and Liverpool are willing to break the British transfer record to sign Moises Caicedo, then this game worked as a handy explainer.

The huge hold in both sides’ midfield made for an extremely entertaining fixture, but it won’t have pleased two managers who are desperate to fix that particular issue.

It still remains to be seen who will come out on top in the battle for Caicedo, with the Reds still the only team to agree a fee with Brighton and refusing to withdraw their offer.

And they will be particularly desperate for a late twist in the tale after their biggest weakness – the very same one as a key rival – was exposed so ruthlessly here.

 

Centre-back need shown up

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 13, 2023: Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The benefits of having one of the best orthodox left-backs in the business starting games for Liverpool was proven in one particular passage of play that saw Andy Robertson come within inches of teeing up Cody Gakpo.

Unfortunately, the drawbacks of the Scot’s poor fit for this new system were also evidenced repeatedly as Chelsea picked gaps in a defence that so often stretched beyond belief.

Defensive midfield may well be the obvious weakness for this team and, with better protection, perhaps those holes at the back would not be as easily found by opponents.

However, it feels more likely that, until a left-footed centre-back more accustomed to playing in a back three is signed, Liverpool will still have this problem.

Sadly, there is one Chelsea defender who fits that description would have helped solve the issue, but he recently penned a new six-year contract.

 

Dominik Szoboszlai excites on league debut

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 13, 2023: Liverpool's Dominik Szoboszlai during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Perhaps surprisingly, Dominik Szoboszlai‘s performances across pre-season did more to showcase his defensive work than his creativity going forward.

But, in an end-to-end game at Stamford Bridge, the Hungarian had the chance to prove that he will bring a certain attacking dynamism to Liverpool’s midfield that has been lacking in recent years.

His drives through the centre were a feature of the first half in particular, with Chelsea‘s midfielders shrugged off with an ease that was reminiscent of – dare we say it – Steven Gerrard.

That should excited supporters who, once a defensive midfielder is added to let the shackles off, will get to see even more from an unleashed Szoboszlai.

 

Harvey Elliott thrills in cameo

PRESTON, ENGLAND - Monday, August 7, 2023: Liverpool's Ben Doak (R) and Harvey Elliott during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and SV Darmstadt 98 at Deepdale. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool supporters have perhaps been guilty of underplaying the important role Harvey Elliott can take on this season despite an ongoing midfield overhaul.

The Englishman certainly looked to be a player capable of making a big impact across the campaign during a brief cameo in this game.

His pressing helped put the Reds back on the front foot and his use of the ball always seems to help the Reds create dangerous situations.

The biggest criticism Elliott has faced during his short career centres on his lack of physicality, but definitely appears to have bulked up over the summer and looked sharper than ever in his sprints here too.

This was a very good start for a young player who will be desperate to build on the lessons he learned during a difficult campaign for the team as a whole last time out.