Chelsea and Liverpool do everything but win in Premier League thriller

Both sides gave everything in a pulsating game

A classic game for neutral fans, but also Manchester City. Both Chelsea and Liverpool put everything into this pulsating 2-2 draw, to the point the intensity just had to trail off, and it might mean the title race does too. It all means that City are 10 points clear of Chelsea with the same number of games played, and 11 of Liverpool with one more.

The truth was that necessity was the mother of intensity in this case, as both teams played like they knew they absolutely had to win. They only ended up hurting each other, while entertaining everyone else.

It was a game so good that the dominant story of the build-up, that over Romelu Lukaku’s absence, soon became even less than an after-thought. It was barely considered, as this was another of those matches where modern sides in matches against peers looked better without an attacking focal point.

Chelsea also showed real resilience, both in coming back from 2-0 and also clearly playing for their manager. The Independent has been told that the squad backs Thomas Tuchel on his approach to Lukaku’s eyebrow-raising interview. They certainly played like it here, in the way they came back.

They really had to raise it, which was saying something given the searing speed this contest was played at.


The manner the match kicked off suggested it wasn’t done with a whistle but a starting pistol. Events were immediately intense, and influential. Within a mere six seconds, Sadio Mane had displayed Liverpool’s vigour, and then some. He was perhaps lucky not to receive a red card as he quickly charged for a ball, only to smash Cesar Azpilicueta in the face. The VAR suggested it was reckless but not violent, which was why Many only got a yellow card. It was important.

After all the fire and brimstone about a player who wasn’t on the pitch, the spark here was from one who managed to stay on.

Within a mere eight minutes, Mane was rounding Edouard Mendy to thunder the ball into the net. That didn’t just follow a Trevoh Chalobah error, but also one from Christian Pulisic at the other end. The American forward had been presented with an opportunity to round Caoimhin Kelleher himself, but the young Irish goalkeeper held his ground well.

It was all just another of the day’s countless subplots and narrative details, that were all ultimately overshadowed by big twists and spectacular moments. The next three goals were of the highest quality, although they did arrest a spell when it looked like Chelsea’s season was in danger of spiralling out of control.

Salah scored a supreme second for Liverpool

Liverpool repeatedly got at them in the period after the Mane goal, but they were just that bit too erratic themselves. It was no coincidence that a move of the most commanding technical ability finally secured the second. Trent Alexander-Arnold, who had himself been caught out for the early Pulisic chance, spotted a gap behind Marcos Alonso. He still had to exploit, and did so exquisitely. It was a move that just escalated in sheer excellence.

Alexander-Arnold threaded a superb ball inside, which put Salah right through on goal. The Egyptian could have gone for the easy shot, but instead made the hugely difficult look easy once more. Salah just checked his run and finish to a subtle but devastating degree, ensuring Chelsea’s whole defence was wrong-footed and Mendy didn’t know where to go. In the blink of an eye, but in that way that really elevates the elite players, Salah suddenly had the opening to just smash the ball in.

It was another world-class moment in a season where he has gone to another level.

That looked like it could have been the set-up for a vintage Liverpool victory. It instead only furthered a fearsome half of football, that really touched the very heights of the Premier League’s quality.

Kovacic’s sensational strike got Chelsea on the board

It does say something when one of the players renowned for an inability to finish produced one of the efforts of the day – and maybe the season. Mateo Kovacic, who had notoriously scored just four club goals in seven seasons prior to this, then went and hit a one-in-a-million strike. The midfielder met a Liverpool clearance from a corner with a first-time volley, sending a joyously arching effort in off the post. Kelleher had no chance. Chelsea had life again.

The game just burst with energy, and adventure.

Chelsea had more of it in that moment, Antonio Rudiger winning the ball in the middle, N’Golo Kante sending it on, and Pulisic controlling it expertly to then send a soaring strike into the top corner.

It was so much more than a reprieve from the American. The game needed some relief.


After that, it was perhaps no surprise that the second half didn’t quite hit the same levels of intensity. The players had given so much, after a demanding schedule, that has only been complicated by Covid.

The end result is that it does make the top of the table that much clearer, even as it clouds Lukaku’s future.

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