Liverpool’s new season started with a draw – though this was anything but a boring encounter as new signings impressed and gaps in both teams made for a wild ride at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool
Premier League (1), Stamford Bridge
Sunday 13 August 2023
Goals: Disasi 37′; Diaz 18′
Alisson – 9 (out of 10)
First called upon after 15 minutes to smother a through ball and did so brilliantly to stop a one-on-one. Couldn’t do much about Disasi’s leveller from close range even though he got a leg to the ball. Saved well from Jackson in the second half and was imperious with claiming aerials.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
Some superb threaded passes from deep including for the Salah strike which was ruled out, while also made a brilliant defensive clearance over his own bar – shortly before not tracking his man Disasi for the resultant equaliser.
Also didn’t track Chilwell a minute later to score again; make up your own mind whether that was good defending or fortunate when he was ruled offside.
When the system is so reliant on him, he needs to be more involved and not so sloppy in midfield
Ibrahima Konate – 8
Enormous and magnificent. Impossible to circumnavigate on the dribble, skilful enough to evade a couple of pressers at once and still pass out the back.
Great recovery sliding tackle blocked one big chance early on. Did enough to pressure Jackson to spurn another one-on-one later.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Took all the goal kicks; a ploy or an injured goalkeeper? Won loads of headers and made a few important interceptions to see off attempted through-balls. But while Trent will get raised eyebrows for not tracking Disasi, Virgil vacated that space ahead of others in the defensive line – we’ve still got much to do to be cohesive as a unit there.
Andy Robertson – 5
A very nice guy but not a third centre-back when we shift to that system in-game.
Overloaded so often he didn’t know whether to stick or twist, which caused everyone else to second-guess which spaces they needed to cover. Lost a few 50-50s which isn’t like him and his crossing, when he did get forward, was hit and miss at best.
Alexis Mac Allister – 8
Given the deepest role in midfield for his debut and had a predictably mixed time of matters: assured and excellent in possession, but run past when play headed the other way.
Never shirked a challenge or ignored a runner but being a defensive midfielder is a specialist role and, well, Liverpool have zero personnel who are it. Even so, excellent in the tackle in deep areas and not afraid to surge on into space.
Contextually, a very good performance. Can’t wait to see him with a defensive midfielder alongside him doing the work he tried to do here.
Dominik Szoboszlai – 8
There’s always interest and focus on the new faces in the team just by virtue of their ‘newness’; after today, there will be on the new No. 8 just because he’s impeccable.
Crunching in the tackle, fierce in his tracking back and excellent technically, he immediately looked at home in the midfield, linked well with Mo and delivered some decent corners too.
Cody Gakpo – 6
Early on when transition play was prominent in our gameplan and we were attacking in numbers, he played a good role in linking passes, making an extra body in the final third and breaking with pace.
But defensively, has obviously got a lot to improve to be able to play midfield in the biggest of games.
Another who was out of position, so context is key.
Mohamed Salah – 6
So unlucky not to score with his right foot from 20 yards – against the bar on 11 minutes. Six minutes later he had created the opener anyway, an inch-perfect through ball for Luis Diaz to slide onto.
Half an hour on the board and he was almost on the scoresheet too – VAR denying him by the tiniest margin. But did also miss two decent chances in the first half.
Didn’t really get much service second half, which correlates with Liverpool creating…not much. Not happy to be taken off.
Diogo Jota – 5
Wasteful start as he overhit a pass to play in Diaz then nicked a shot off Szoboszlai’s toes. Seemingly booked for shouting at Enzo, given he didn’t do much else in their tangle, and suffered a big hit before half-time in an attempted block.
Really wasn’t his day, offered nothing second half and subbed past the hour.
Luis Diaz – 7
Looked in the mood from the get-go and was always willing to make those runs in off the flank to make up the man in the middle.
After two such darts went unrewarded, he got the service he wanted third time around and slid in a first-time finish for the opener.
Flitted in and out of the game thereafter in truth: an overhead kick attempt, a few dribbles, some good challenges and hold-up play, but also long spells when he was a bystander.
Darwin Nunez (on for Jota, 65′) – 6 – A bit of running but nothing much else. Missed his first touch for his first possible shooting chance – then nearly did the whole lot himself to win it in injury time. Deflected just wide.
Curtis Jones (on for Gakpo, 65′) – 7 – Should have started and deserved to after last season. Neat in possession, hard-working, didn’t put a foot wrong.
Harvey Elliott (on for Salah, 76′) – 7 – Into midfield late on and had a few decent moments down the opposite channel too.
Ben Doak (on for Diaz, 76) – 6 – Not much chance to impress.
Subs not used: Names here Kelleher, Gomez, Tsimikas, Matip, McConnell.
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Not too much else he could have done differently in terms of lineup, other than perhaps a Jones for a Gakpo or Jota, given the fact we have about a dozen senior outfielders at the moment.
But the approach seemed to be to simply embrace the madness and serve up as much of it as possible: Liverpool very rarely had much control in this match, particularly in two moments you’d especially want them to – right after scoring and right after conceding.
The first pair of subs were the right ones but the second pair was a gamble which left the team lightweight, if potentially explosive. Ultimately there wasn’t much impact either way.
At times it looked like we could madness the game into three points; by the midway point of the second half there were probably some fans who would have shook on a point there and then.
We all know the glaring gaps in the squad and until they are addressed it won’t look complete, but even without that it still feels as though for all the attacking capacity of the team, there’s a lot of tactical immaturity too which will cost Liverpool far, far too many chances and goals against them.
For all that, it’s a point away to Chelsea – you probably take it most years and given away form last term, we’ll have to do so again today.