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Digging Deeper Into Liverpool’s Season Opening Draw With Chelsea

With a season-opening draw with Chelsea in the books, we take a closer look at what it all means for the Reds.

Chelsea FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

It was all really quite good until it wasn’t. Liverpool came out of the gates and absolutely dominated the opening 20 minutes. The high press was clicking, the passing was quick and precise, and the Reds came close to scoring several times. It all came together in the 18th minute with a fantastic sequence of passes on the counter that culminated with Mohamed Salah sliding a sensational pass through for Luis Diaz to slide home. Unfortunately, the Reds failed to capitalize on the momentum and allowed Chelsea to use their width to maintain possession and generate more than a few quality chances.

Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.


Opening Fixture Mohamed Salah
Mo got on the scoresheet in the opening match of the season for the 7th season running. His pass to set up Luis Diaz was absolutely sensational. Salah also put the goal in the back of the net, but was narrowly offside. He was in general very good on the ball, but his influence waned as he saw his service dry up as the match went on.

Alisson Becker
The Liverpool goalkeeper has been one of the best in the game for quite some time now. He showed up again and again for the Reds, making three massive saves to keep the score level. Alisson also started the move that led to Liverpool’s goal in the 18th minute. I shudder to think where Liverpool would be without Alisson.

The New Midfield Recruits
It’s still quite obvious that Liverpool are missing a true holding midfielder, which caused the balance of the midfield to be off against Chelsea. Despite that fact, both Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai showed more than a few glimpses of how good Liverpool’s new-look midfield could be.

Macca was tasked with playing in a holding role, and showed composure and press-resistance in some tight situations. He showed off his passing range as well, completing 4 of 6 long passes, including a couple nice passes to switch the point of attack. His movement off the ball was also quite good, and will be a big benefit when he can be deployed in his more natural box to box role.

Szoboszlai also showed out well. His energy in the press was as good as advertised, and he was very involved in the attack. He led the squad with 3 key passes, and put his impressive dead ball deliveries on display.


Defensive Support on the Left
It would be easy to call out Andy Robertson, and her certainly didn’t cover himself in glory on a couple of occasions. But that wasn’t the full story. Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo were great as outlets and fantastic on the ball, but neither gave the help needed to close off the space for Reese James and Raheem Sterling down Liverpool’s left, leaving Robertson on an island more often than not.

Cody Gakpo as a Midfielder
This isn’t on Gakpo. He was asked to play in a midfield role that didn’t really suit him, especially in a Chelsea team looking to use the width of the field to attack. Liverpool looked a lot more solid and composed when Curtis Jones was brought in as the left-sided midfielder.

Dissecting The Narrative

With Liverpool and Chelsea currently battling for the signatures of Moises Caicedo and/or Roméo Lavia off the pitch, it was an unsurprisingly open match with both squads struggling to break up play and maintain possession through midfield. It is glaringly obvious that both clubs will need to get this messy transfer saga sorted out in short order if they want to have any hopes of getting their respective midfields functioning at a top level.

What Happens Next

One down, thirty-seven left to go in the Premier League. Liverpool will be back in action next Saturday for their first home match of the season, hosting Bournemouth.

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