In the end, ten was enough. Chelsea spent the second half of the game at Anfield with ten men, having felt quite rightly aggrieved to have a man sent off. Yet, the Blues didn’t so much weather the storm against Liverpool, as they found their feet and eventually got comfortable in it, sealing a 1-1 draw in the process, and laying a marker in the title tussle.
Chelsea Show Resilience to Seal Draw at Anfield
Red Card a Pivotal Point
On the cusp of half-time, the game took a turn. Chelsea had Liverpool at some arm’s length, and looked to be heading into the break with a comfortable, if not necessarily deserved, lead. However, amidst a scramble, a Sadio Mane shot struck Reece James on the arm. The Blues felt aggrieved at what came next. Mohammed Salah scored the subsequent penalty, James received a red card, and their attitude at the end of the half reflected it. It looks like heads were being lost.
But to the credit of this Thomas Tuchel side, they held out after the break. There was something of a barrage at the start of the second half, and Mendy had to get down to make smart saves. Chelsea, though, got a hold of the game, and produced a defensively controlled performance.
Soon, the game went from being an inevitable Liverpool win, to the hosts huffing and puffing. By half-time, the game looked to be swinging one way. By full-time, it was different.
Chelsea’s Evolution and Adaptability Under Tuchel
Less than a year ago, Chelsea played the second game of their 2020/21 Premier League season at home to Liverpool. It was a tepid defeat to the then champions, and illustrated how further apart one team was from the other. Fast forward 11 months, and things look different.
The Blues, since the departure of Frank Lampard and arrival of Thomas Tuchel, have developed an ability to be extraordinary while looking ordinary. Such is the organisation, that even with ten men – which they were also reduced to against Liverpool in September 2020 – they looked formidable, to the point of indestructible.
Yet, amidst the top-class organisation, their ability to adapt and flexibility is as admirable. Chelsea have the ability to play on the counter, but also completely on the front foot. This was evident in the first half, before the red card, when the Blues relied on breaking forward at pace. By the time Kai Havertz headed in the opener, the Blues had tested the waters more than a few times. Before Liverpool found their equaliser, Anfield had started to get edgy and frustrated.
Are Chelsea the Favourites for the Title?
Despite the season being only three weeks old, it’s probably no longer valid to ask whether Chelsea are contenders. They’ve been showing that they can be since the start of the year. The question now is probably whether Thomas Tuchel’s side are title favourites.
Of the four sides to look at, the Blues look the most organised, and least vulnerable. Plus, they remain capable of finding and exploiting team’s weaknesses to the specifics. There’s a long way to go, but this team look in it for the long haul.
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