Their first goals of the season were conceded, their first points dropped. Still, little could separate Liverpool and Chelsea when the title contenders drew 1-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.
Chelsea should be the most satisfied after surviving playing half of the game at Anfield with 10 men after Reece James was sent off for blocking the ball on the line with his right hand.
But the equalizer scored by Mohamed Salah from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time — canceling out Kai Havertz’s header from James’ corner — was about as threatening as Liverpool got in front of goal.
The flare-up between both sets of players after the penalty was also about as fiery as it got. But it was also a reminder — if needed — of just how much the intensity of these top-four clashes is heightened by having the crowds back into capacity stadiums again this season.
“It was a tough game for both teams,” Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said. “I liked it. It’s rare to get this kind of enjoyment, the intensity both teams put in is really incredible. That’s then, together with the atmosphere our people can create, a top game today and really enjoyable with a little thing that we don’t like too much — that it is only a point.”
The hosts were unable to breakdown a reconfigured Chelsea defense that held off the home threat through a disciplined defensive display.
It leaves 2020 Premier League champion Liverpool and reigning European champion Chelsea on seven points, and with Tottenham the last remaining side that can make it three wins out of three if it beats Watford on Sunday.
There were injury setbacks for both teams at Anfield.
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino went off with a suspected hamstring injury in the first half,
“It doesn’t look too serious but you never know before you have a scan, which will happen tomorrow,” Klopp said.
Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante, having missed the win against Crystal Palace two weeks ago with an ankle problem, had to be replaced on Saturday due to injury.
“Can there be any harder to challenge us than going one man down and taking N’Golo Kante off at halftime at Anfield? I don’t know,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said. “And having Liverpool playing towards the Kop.
”(It’s a) pretty tough one but we did excellent and we are super happy how we did and we feel like we deserved a point.”
Klopp’s pleas for Liverpool fans to not sing a homophobic chant aimed at Chelsea went unheeded, being heard inside and outside Anfield.
“Liverpool FC is disappointed by reports that a small section of our supporters were heard singing offensive songs,” the club said. “The club strongly condemns these actions and will be investigating all reported allegations of abusive and/or discriminatory behavior with the relevant authorities to identify perpetrators.”
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