Manchester City somehow became the winners of Saturday’s clash between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge as the two sides finished in a 2-2 draw, allowing City to establish a stronghold on their position atop the Premier League standings. City are now 10 points clear as Chelsea sit in the No. 2 spot, and Liverpool at No. 3 with one fewer match played than Chelsea and City.
“It was an incredible first half,” Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic said. “You feel after we got the momentum and get back 2-2 it’s a bit frustrating not to get the winner but probably a fair result in the end.”
Sadio Mane (9′) and Mohamed Salah (26′) made it 2-0 fairly early, but Mateo Kovacic (42′) and Pulisic (45’+1′) evened the match at 2 goals apiece by halftime.
“It is a big gap,” Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk said about the PL title race. “They [City] have the title maybe to lose at the moment but anything can happen still. We have been there and gave it away, so anything is possible. We focus on ourselves. If you are 2-0 up you don’t want to concede that close to half time, give them the momentum to get back into the game, it happened — a fantastic strike, you have to give [Kovacic] credit. That gives them momentum and they score the second. For the outside world it was quite a good game to watch, but we came here for three points and didn’t get them.”
Chelsea won the possession battle 55-45, but both sides finished with 6 shots on goal. Liverpool did have 13 fouls called against them compared to five for the home side.
“Brilliant match of football, everybody not in the stadium missed something – energy, some mistakes,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said. “We started excellent and were 1-0 down out of nothing because we did two or three big mistakes, then we concede a second one which makes the task very hard. The team did not give in and Mateo Kovacic’s goal brought the belief back into the stadium. There was almost the perfect comeback in the first half with a third goal on the transition. Nice goals, no? The first one was absolutely brilliant but also the second was difficult. To coach was high level and it was on the edge, it could have gone either way. A good Sunday afternoon and new year.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was not on the sidelines due to a positive Covid-19 test; the team was also without Alisson, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino.
“It’s never boring with us, eh? Never,” Liverpool assistant coach Pep Lijnders said. “We’re really proud of the boys because they made a proper football match. We could have made a lot of excuses, but we didn’t, we attacked the game. It was not easy – Chelsea really tried to use the spaces we left, sometimes we couldn’t deal with that. What I would loved to have seen more was more control. The moments we were quick in mind and were really connected, switched side, when we used the space they left, we were lethal. Coming here in the situation we’re in, it’s a really good point.”
Salah has now scored four goals against Chelsea in the Premier League, the joint-most any player has scored against the Blues after playing for them in the competition; Kevin De Bruyne is the other.
Liverpool are in EFL Cup semi-final action against Arsenal next week (6 January). Their next PL fixture is on 16 January against Brentford.
Chelsea have EFL semi-final action against Tottenham on Wednesday, 5 January, before some FA Cup action. Their next PL match is on 16 January against Manchester City.