Chelsea, Felix frustrated by Liverpool as both teams’ top-four hopes take another hit

LONDON — Chelsea and Liverpool extended their miserable Premier League seasons by playing out a dismal goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in the home team’s first game since the sacking of manager Graham Potter.

Reece James and Kai Havertz saw goals ruled out by VAR for Chelsea and Mateo Kovacic missed an easy chance to score in the second-half.

Report: Chelsea and Liverpool draw | Premier League table

But in a campaign that has seen more downs than ups for both sides, this was another low moment for Chelsea and Liverpool.

Rapid reaction

1. Champions League heavyweights now facing scrap for minor places

Chelsea vs. Liverpool fixtures are usually explosive, high-stakes clashes with titles or cups on the line, especially at this time of year.

But after these two Premier League giants and Champions League heavyweights — the last two English clubs to lift the European Cup — played out a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, it meant that they are now playing for the dubious honour of places in the Europa League and Conference League.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Chelsea, without a manager since Sunday’s sacking of Graham Potter, are probably now out of the running for a Europa League spot having fallen seven points behind sixth-place Brighton after this result, but they could still sneak into the Conference League with seventh-place Liverpool just four points ahead.

But for two clubs with eight Champions League titles between them, the prospect of playing out the season for the prize of a place among European football’s minnows next season will be a galling one.

Liverpool are now seven points adrift of the top four and fading fast after scoring one in three league games since beating Manchester United 7-0 last month. The chase for the final European spots sums up where these two clubs are, however, following a dismal season for both.

In this game, Chelsea had the better chances and saw two goals ruled out — one for offside and the other for handball — but they showed little sign of a positive bounce under interim manager Bruno Saltor. And Liverpool were flat and bereft of energy and ideas following their heavy defeat at the Etihad.

On the evidence of this game, neither club can be certain of qualifying for Europe, so the summer’s rebuilding plans could be even harder to achieve.

2. Jurgen Klopp’s changes made little sense in Liverpool’s push for top four

Klopp made six changes to his team following Liverpool’s 4-1 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday and only one — the sick Virgil van Dijk — was enforced on the Reds’ manager.

Considering the manner of their defeat at the Etihad, Klopp could argue that none of his players deserved to start at Stamford Bridge, but his selection did not seem like a ruthless display of a manager dropping his under-performing stars.

Mohamed Salah was rested rather than dropped, as was Andy Robertson. Both came off the substitutes’ bench in the second-half. Trent Alexander-Arnold was poor at the Etihad, but Cody Gakpo was a rare shining light in defeat, yet he was on the bench too. Harvey Elliott meanwhile didn’t even make the bench.

Klopp might simply have decided that, with this game sandwiched between the City fixture and a clash with Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday, he had to inject some freshness into his team.

But with no cup or European commitments between now and the end of the season, Liverpool now have just 10 Premier League games to play over two months, so did the likes of Salah, Robertson and Gakpo really need to be rested five days before facing the Gunners?

Klopp knows his players better than anyone, but by making so many changes, it gave the message that Liverpool have given up hope of climbing into the top four this season. And with 10 games to go, that’s not a good place for Liverpool to be.

3. Joao Felix a rare Chelsea highlight, but will he stay?

With just two goals in 12 games for Chelsea since arriving on loan from Atletico Madrid in January, it would be a stretch to suggest that the Portugal international has been a success at Stamford Bridge.

But the 23-year-old showed against Liverpool that he is a talent who could become a 15-goal a season player under the right coach or manager. With a reported buy-out fee of £70 million at the end of his loan, however, he will need to do much more to earn a permanent move.

Felix almost scored an outstanding goal inside three minutes when he raced half the length of the pitch only to have his shot blocked in the final movement. It summed up the threat he posed with his direct running and willingness to take the ball.

While some of his teammates might be lacking in confidence following the run of poor results that led to the dismissal of Potter on Sunday, Felix did not display the effects of a lack of morale. But although he performed like a player ready to take off, Felix summed up Chelsea in many ways — lively, but erratic and with no real finishing touch.

Chelsea went into this game with their lowest-ever Premier League goals total after scoring just 29 goals in 28 games, but they have too much quality to play with a blunt edge.

Best and worst performers


Joao Felix, Chelsea: A constant ball of energy and unlucky not to score a stunning solo goal in the first-half. Chelsea’s best player.

Jordan Henderson, Liverpool: After the 4-1 humiliation at Manchester City, Henderson steadied the ship with a captain’s performance in midfield for Liverpool.


Alisson Becker, Liverpool: The Liverpool goalkeeper has had some wobbles recently and he was unconvincing again at Stamford Bridge, especially with the ball at his feet.

Mateo Kovacic, Chelsea: Missed a clear chance to put Chelsea ahead early in the second-half, but blazed his shot high over the crossbar from ten yards.

Darwin Nunez, Liverpool: Another high-energy, big-effort performance from the Liverpool forward, but once again, there was no end product.

Highlights and notable moments

Havertz thought he had broken the deadlock before VAR disallowed his goal for a handball.

After the match: What the players/managers said

Kai Havertz on the sacking of Graham Potter: “We have to take responsibility what’s going on. We are the faces out there. We are all very frustrated to see Graham [Potter] go, but we have to accept the situation.”

Key stats

James Milner made his 610th Premier League appearance and is now third in all-time appearances in the English top flight.

Chelsea have failed to score in the first half of each of their last eight Premier League games at Stamford Bridge, their joint-longest such run in the competition.

Up next

Chelsea: The Blues visit Wolves on April 8 in the Premier League before facing Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals on April 12.

Liverpool: With only Premier League games left to play this season, the Reds host league leaders Arsenal next on April 9 followed by a visit to Leeds United on April 17.


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar