It was one of the most anticipated matches of the week and the hype was palpable as the sun rose in the eastern part of the sky. In between, England gunned down India, Manchester City stripped Arsenal and Michail Antonio is still rocking and Jamie Vardy scored again – still, the sooner the time for the match came nearer, such eventful happenings took a back seat because a mouthwatering contest was on offer for people across the globe.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 28, 2021
The return of Virgil van Dijk and renewed vigour in the attacking third have made Liverpool look like the side of two seasons back, which must be a pleasing sight for Jurgen Klopp. Admittedly, Norwich City and Burnley are not the toughest of tests in the Premier League and for which the clash against Chelsea matters a lot.
Chelsea’s issue under Thomas Tuchel last season was obvious – they did not have a prolific goal-scorer but Romelu Lukaku has returned to Stamford Bridge at the peak of his powers and he will be keen to prove he can be the man to fire the Blues to the title. He has already turned the fortunes around at Internazionale during his career and he looks like he can do it again.
The Reds started positively with Mohamed Salah and Harvey Elliott combining on the right, allowing the latter to swing in a cross that was headed clear.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 28, 2021
Kai Havertz was taken down by Fabinho on the halfway line with Chelsea breaking away, but from an intensity point of view, Liverpool looked better than the visitors and with Anfield buzzing for their favourite boys, Liverpool followed the flow of the music around them.
But, the European Champions would not just run around the park, rather they had come here to showcase their authority.
An incredible first touch from Mason Mount bamboozled Joel Matip who was forced to bring him down but the defender got away without a booking. The resulting free-kick was a dangerous one but Mane worked tirelessly to clear the danger.
The game was building up.
Real shame not to find a winner against ten, there. But Chelsea defended well and the Reds just couldn't make it through.
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) August 28, 2021
An incredible pass over the top from Trent Alexander-Arnold (TAA) dropped over the Chelsea defence and onto Henderson’s left foot, but the Liverpool skipper seemed undecided on whether to shoot or pass, instead of sending the ball tamely wide.
Van Dijk went down in the Chelsea box after winning the header.
Chelsea broke quickly on Liverpool, moving the ball up the pitch at speed but things slow down on the edge of the box. Eventually, Reece James swung in a cross which was headed clear.
Lukaku had a choice of two passes, whether to slip the ball to Havertz or Mount but the Belgian, in the end, sent a wayward through ball to Alisson.
Fabinho volleyed the ball to Robertson advancing down the left, he took it down and slung in a good cross to the back post but Alonso was waiting to clear.
Liverpool were looking very lively going forward.
Kai Havertz scored his 10th Chelsea goal ?
His first since the Champions League final ?
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 28, 2021
After twenty minutes of intense football, the Blues won a corner.
James whipped a corner to the front post for Havertz to attack. The German flicked the ball from in front of the front post and the ball ended up looping over Alisson and into the top corner at the far.
It was an exception header and was not expected by the Liverpool markers – jumped, headed the ball, not from the near post, rather let the ball swerve above the goalkeeper and went in – Anfield was silent.
Liverpool picked up the tempo.
? SCENES ?
Reece James is sent off for handball on the line after a lengthy VAR review – Mo Salah fires Liverpool level from the spot
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 28, 2021
Mane picked up a loose pass and slid it through the Chelsea defence for Salah to chase but Mendy read the danger and came out of his area to clear.
Liverpool had been getting crowded out in the middle, so Salah is drifting out further to the right in the hope he can get one-on-one with a Chelsea defender – He lifted in a cross for Mane to attack but Mendy plucked the ball of the forward’s head.
45': Liverpool are awarded a penalty
46': Reece James is sent off
50': Mohamed Salah scores the penalty
50': Edouard Mendy is booked
A hectic end to the first half.
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) August 28, 2021
A corner by Robertson was flicked to the back post by Mane where Matip attacked it, then the ball fell back down and eventually to Mane who prod it towards goal and hit the arm of James – in a toal chaos Liverpool missed an opportunity, but the referee checked VAR and awarded Liverpool a penalty, while James was shown a red card, the decision was harsh.
Salah scored from the penalty spot and equalized, but tension rose after the penalty kick.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 28, 2021
Chelsea looked furious and there were pushing and altercations among the players. Mendy received a yellow card. The Blues were fuming and so was Tuchel.
Chelsea were down to ten men.
REECE JAMES RED CARD.
THINGS HAVE JUST GOT HEATED ? pic.twitter.com/9WpZ5d1Z69
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 28, 2021
After the break, Tuchel brought on Thiago Silva for Havretz, which certainly hampered Chelsea’s counterattack and Mateo Kovacic was brought on for N’Golo Kante was looked unfit. Cesar Azpilicueta was on the right in a three-man defence. The intention was more about holding off the Reds.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 28, 2021
Van Dijk was a very long way out from goal, but the space just opened up in front of him as Chelsea spread to cover the wide players. His drilled shot is swerving towards the near bottom corner, but Mendy got down pushing it away.
Salah and Alexander-Arnold combined with the latter chipping a pass over the defence for the former to chase but Rudiger read it and knocked the ball out for a corner.
Jordan Henderson got the ball 30 yards from goal and tried to curl one into the top corner but it clipped Lukaku on the way and ends up going inches wide.
Fabinho tried from a similar distance with one that zips across the grass but Mendy palmed it clear for a corner. The resulting set-piece was cleared to the edge of the box from where Robertson whacked another shot for Mendy to save.
Chelsea were trying to slow the tempo of Liverpool and as the match progressed they had been successful in doing so because they had no option but filling spaces and suffocate the home side. The Blues were extremely successful in doing such as they left Anfield without a defeat despite being down to ten men.