Chelsea and Liverpool were both left disappointed after a goalless stalemate at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, the host side’s first encounter since Graham Potter was fired as manager.
Chelsea were the superior, more threatening side under temporary manager Bruno Saltor, but they failed to convert on several obvious chances to score, as they had so many times during Potter’s disastrous tenure.
With 10 games left, Liverpool are ninth in the Premier League, seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham. Chelsea, who severed ways with Potter after a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday, stay in the lowest half of the league, in 11th place.
“Both teams played last year in two finals, two of the best 0-0s I’ve ever seen,” Jurgen Klopp told the BBC. “Today, it was two sides that were low on morale but fought hard. We’re happy with a point and a bunch of excellent things. We fought hard. We have to keep going.”
While Chelsea had a shift on the substitutes, Liverpool had a fresh look squad, with Klopp making six alterations from the team that fell 4-1 at Manchester City. Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Andy Robertson all began on the substitutes, with Virgil van Dijk missing out due to sickness.
Meanwhile, Saltor made two alterations from Potter’s last squad, including giving N’Golo Kante his first start since August. And the World Cup champion demonstrated why Potter must have been unhappy that Kante was only available for 33 minutes during his seven-month tenure.
Kante had a usual all-action first half, equally adept at stymieing Liverpool advances and initiating them for his own side.
Despite controlling for much of the first 45 minutes, Chelsea’s failure to convert opportunities proved to be their downfall.
After only four minutes, the energetic Joao Felix broke through on goal, but Joel Matip was able to get back and make a vital stop. Just a minute later, Liverpool’s other centre-back, Ibrahima Konate, made a crucial assist of his own, clearing off the line after Mateo Kovacic had rounded Alisson.
It was then up to the Liverpool custodian to foil the hosts by coming out to stop in front of Kai Havertz on the outskirts of the six-yard box.
Chelsea had the ball in the Liverpool goal halfway through the first half, but Reece James’ powerful strike following a corner was ruled out for offside against Enzo Fernandez from the original flick-on.
Only in first-half extra time did Liverpool pose a serious danger to Chelsea’s goal. Joe Gomez caused Kepa Arrizabalaga to save a long-range attempt, and from the following corner, Fabinho looked set to score, but Wesley Fofana got his head to the Brazilian’s shot, deflecting it off goal.
The same scenario proceeded in the second half. The hosts were then denied a second goal, though the judgement was clear.
Kante played Havertz in behind the Liverpool defense, and despite the fact that the ball bounced directly to the Chelsea striker and into the goal, the video aid referee quickly ruled that it had gone in off Havertz’s shoulder.
Klopp quickly looked to his substitutes for a boost, putting on Salah and Robertson, but neither they nor Chelsea had the talent or cutting edge needed to secure all three points.
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