Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea: Honors even at Anfield stalemate as Kai Havertz is disallowed for an early goal

Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea: Honors even in Anfield patch as Kai Havertz is disallowed for an early goal for the Blues while Mykhailo Mudryk impresses on debut – as a draw hurts rivals’ top-four hopes

  • Chelsea and Liverpool drew 0-0 at Anfield on Saturday afternoon
  • Kai Havertz was denied an early goal, but the game lacked quality in attack
  • New boy Mykhailo Mudryk impressed after coming on as a substitute for Chelsea

World champions versus Champions League finalists; or tenths against eights. It depends on how you sell it what spin you want to add to the current manifestations of Chelsea and Liverpool. To be honest, it felt more like the pre-season Carabao Cup. The respective injury crisis at both clubs made for isolated stars, some aging professionals and some unknown youngsters.

Nothing says mediocrity at the table like the stunned silence that greeted the final whistle, followed by a torrent of polite applause. This was not one of the big encounters between these two clubs. The quality of the game had a distinct tenths versus eights feel to it. It certainly wasn’t like two of world football’s elite teams going head-to-head.

Only the transfer fees tied to the players would have told the game that there were two superpowers. Mykhailo Mudryk, who signed Chelsea for £89million, stepped in, almost weaving through Liverpool defense to make a dramatic opener in the 63rd minute and then almost ended up at the end of a deep cross in the 71st minute . Nearly. Cody Gakpo, worth £40m, currently holds the forward line for Liverpool and £85m Darwin Nunez joined to add support.

Liverpool and Chelsea drew 0-0 in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday

Liverpool and Chelsea drew 0-0 in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday

It was a competitive encounter as both sides had periods of pressure but lacked quality

It was a competitive encounter as both sides had periods of pressure but lacked quality

Kai Havertz thought he opened the scoring for Chelsea after tapping home in 3 minutes

Kai Havertz thought he opened the scoring for Chelsea after tapping home in 3 minutes

However, after a VAR check, the Chelsea striker was ruled offside and his goal was disallowed

However, after a VAR check, the Chelsea striker was ruled offside and his goal was disallowed

There were moments of little drama, not least when Kai Havertz poked a shot in front of The Kop in the first minute and Chelsea celebrated enthusiastically and profusely. Only for Anfield to roar with glee when the VAR finally ruled offside after a long delay. That was the closest thing to real excitement. And we were cruelly mistaken if we thought it was an auspicious omen.

There was Hakim Ziyech, who would embark on a mad dash over goal on the hour, sliding past five players and then deflecting his shot over the bar. Or Naby Keita with a super ball on Mo Salah before half-time that sent the Egyptian free and into the void, Salah lavishly shot over the bar with a goal in his last five.

But the mediocrity screamed two teams in upheaval. Whether it was a rare misstep by Alisson conceding a corner or Carney Chukwuemeka tripping over his own feet in the penalty area, it wasn’t a game made to last.

Benoit Badiashile should have opened the scoring but Alisson made a good save from five yards

Benoit Badiashile should have opened the scoring but Alisson made a good save from five yards

The Reds were wasteful in the final third, with Mo Salah blaming a chance in the first half

The Reds were wasteful in the final third, with Mo Salah blaming a chance in the first half

Chelsea youngster Lewis Hall impressed in midfield with his energy and assertiveness

Chelsea youngster Lewis Hall impressed in midfield with his energy and assertiveness

Chelsea's new £88m signing Mykhalio Mudryk was unveiled in the second half of Potter

Chelsea’s new £88m signing Mykhalio Mudryk was unveiled in the second half of Potter

What could Graham Potter and Jurgen Klopp draw from this? Their defenses looked at least a little safer. For Chelsea, Benoit Badiashile looked smart and at home after breaking into a Premier League competition, even if it wasn’t a truly elite competition. Ziyech looked a bit more like the winger who played for Morocco at the World Cup. And James Milner is… well, James Milner. Seasons go by but he remains essentially the same reliable player he was at 16, only these days he plays with proficiency at right-back rather than attacking midfield.

But what we know is wrong with the teams, stays wrong. Liverpool’s midfield, whether it’s the more experienced aging stars or the young players who replace them, remains a shadow of the powerhouse that propelled them to three Champions League finals.

The new signing showed glimpses of his undisputed talent on the Blues' left wing

The new signing showed glimpses of his undisputed talent on the Blues’ left wing

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Mudryk fired into the side netting after showing quick feet to put it past two players in the box

Chelsea have little in attack. Their big investments are Romelu Lukaku, currently unhappy on loan at Inter, and Pierre Ermerick Aubameyang, who came on without noticeably improving the quality of the game. Havertz is the best they have. And he’s not good enough, at least as a centre-forward. In midfield, Lewis Hall was exemplary for an 18-year-old and Jorginho held things together. But the latter looks too old and the former too young to represent a real force, while Conor Gallagher looked a little lost despite early energy.

Neither has much to gain from a goalless draw, only mild positives about stemming the flow of blood and restarting the second half of the season. In a freezing cold lunchtime at Anfield, that was as good as it got.

Liverpool was greatly improved in the second period and dominated the first quarter of the half

Liverpool was greatly improved in the second period and dominated the first quarter of the half

It was an entertaining game, but quality was lacking for both sides in the last third

It was an entertaining game, but quality was lacking for both sides in the last third

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Maureen Mackey

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