Liverpool’s need for a defensive midfielder was made clear as they fought to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea on the first day of the 2023–24 Premier League season.
In a strong first-half performance that saw Luis Diaz score and Mo Salah have a goal disallowed for offside, the Reds had to withstand a lot of pressure after the break.
And because Jurgen Klopp’s team still has to replace Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, as well as because Liverpool is vying with Chelsea for the services of Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, primary owner John Henry witnessed the need for reinforcements firsthand while watching from the capital’s stadium stands.
Liverpool had a strong start to the game, and Salah nearly gave Liverpool the lead in the 12th minute when he sent a shot off the crossbar.
However, the Reds would break the tie six minutes later, with Salah providing the assist. The Egypt international sent Diaz through on goal with a brilliantly weighted through ball, and Diaz’s side-swinging attempt beat Chelsea custodian Robert Sanchez.
On minute 29 Salah believed he had doubled the visitors’ lead. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass was caught by him, and he maintained control to defeat Sanchez. A VAR review, though, determined that the Liverpool winger was just slightly offside.
That was undoubtedly the wake-up call Chelsea needed to act, which they did on minute 37. Axel Disasi finished past Reds goalie Alisson Becker after being left unmarked in the box during the second phase of a set-piece.
A minute later, when Ben Chilwell broke free and beat Alisson, Mauricio Pochetinho’s team thought they had seized the lead. However, because Chilwell was unable to stay onside this time, VAR would save Liverpool.
In the 49th minute, Virgil van Dijk nearly scored a shock goal as his accurate drive from outside the box narrowly missed the top corner. However, the Reds were put on the back foot for the remainder of the game.
Before Nicolas Jackson could send Mykhalio Mudryk wide in stoppage time, Alisson produced a significant save on the Brazilian.
Klopp would have been happy to have stayed in the game for a share of the spoils, and he will now be completely focused on the transfer window and finding players who can strengthen his engine room.
Here are our rankings of the Liverpool players.
1. Alisson Becker – 7
Little chance with Disasi’s goal but got off his line really well in the first half to make a big interception. Made a big save from Jackson in the second period and did everything with confidence.
2. Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5
Thought he had an assist when slipping in Salah and made a big clearance over his bar in the first half. However, seemed to lose Disasi for Chelsea’s equaliser and careless pass in the second half gifted Chelsea with a breakaway. Booked for taking too long with a throw-in.
3. Ibrhaima Konate – 6
Made a big block from Fernandez in the first half. Battled away throughout and finally booked in the 85th minute
4. Virgil van Dijk – 7
Made plenty of clearances in both halves and whistled one shot not too far over the bar after the break. Solid.
5. Andy Robertson – 6
Got targeted by Chelsea on several occasions in the first half and didn’t ffer too much on the front foot. Improved after the break.
6. Alexis Mac Allister – 6
Showed great vision on the ball in the first half culminating in a raking pass to Salah that would leave to Liverpool’s opener. Couldn’t offer the defence the protection needed in the second period, although not exactly his fault in a makeshift role.
7. Dominik Szoboszlai – 5
Put himself about in the middle of the park and had a decent start but couldn’t influence things as he’d have liked.
8. Cody Gakpo – 5
Should have pulled the trigger early in the first half when he drove into the box. Put himself about but no marked impact on the attack. Subbed in the 66th minute.
9. Mo Salah – 6
Wonderful assist for Diaz’s opener and mistimed his run by milliseconds to add a second – as well as hitting the bar in the first half Gave Levi Colwill problems but faded in the second half Subbed in the 77th minute much to his frustration.
10. Diogo Jota – 5
Busy enough in the opening 45 minutes and sent two half-chances wide. Subbed in the 66th minute
11. Luis Diaz – 7
Superb diving finish opened the scoring and was lively throughout the first half. Not as involved in the second period. Subbed in the 77th minute.
12. Sub 1 – Darwin Nunez – 6
Had one effort deflectedjust wide.
13. Sub 2 – Curtis Jones – 6
Neat and tidy.
14. Sub 3 – Ben Doak – N/A
Didn’t look fazed at all.
15. Sub 4 – Harvey Ellioot – N/A
Perked Liverpool up with his energy.