A superb defensive display from 10-man Chelsea saw the Blues hold Liverpool to a hard-fought 1-1 draw in their 2021-22 Premier League game at Anfield on Saturday.
The game began at a breakneck pace, with neither side willing to retreat an inch. The visitors struck the first blow courtesy Kai Havertz’s looping header in the 22nd minute, and looked set to take a lead to the break. However, drama ensued right at the end of the half, leading to the hosts restoring parity in the game.
A goalmouth scramble saw the ball flick off Reece James’ thigh onto his hand while the Chelsea full-back was stationed on the goalline. A brief look at the VAR monitor prompted the referee to give Liverpool a penalty and James his marching orders. Former Blues attacker Mohamed Salah stepped up to take the spot-kick and dispatched it nervelessly into the bottom corner.
Liverpool were expected to make their numerical advantage count and find a winner in the second half, but Chelsea had other ideas. The ten men in blue delivered a spectacular rearguard action, proving to be extremely difficult to get past. That meant the game ended with the two teams on level terms but with Chelsea undoubtedly the happier of the two.
On that note, here are the five hits and flops from either team from the game at Anfield.
#5 Hit: Harvey Elliott (Liverpool)
As hard as it is to stand out amidst the array of attacking stars Liverpool have in their ranks, Elliott managed to do just that. The 18-year-old displayed maturity well beyond his years in a superb performance down the Reds’ right wing.
It was not blazing pace or astounding trickery that set Elliott apart, but his remarkable intelligence on the ball. The youngster kept things utterly simple: playing short, swift and accurate passes that almost always found their intended target.
While some may have questioned his inclusion in the Liverpool starting lineup, Elliott looks set to be a mainstay in the Reds’ starting XI this season.
#4 Flop: Reece James (Chelsea)
In the space of a week, Reece James has experienced the highs as well as the lows of professional football. Coming off a match-winning performance against Arsenal last weekend, the Blues right-back was sent off in the first half against Liverpool.
While some may view James’ actions as purely accidental, the referee’s opinion was that the young Englishman handled the ball deliberately on the line. Not only did that passage of play result in a penalty, but Chelsea were also left to play the second half with a man down.
What made the sending off more frustrating was the fact that James had begun the game extremely well. In addition to claiming the assist for Chelsea’s opener, James got forward well down the wing and looked quite dangerous on the ball.