Chelsea and Liverpool were both left frustrated after a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the home side’s first game since the dismissal of Graham Potter as manager.
Chelsea, under the charge of interim boss Bruno Saltor, were the better, more dangerous team but, as so often during Potter’s ill-fated reign, they failed to capitalise on several clear opportunities on goal.
Liverpool avoided suffering four-straight defeats in all competitions, but did little to suggest that they’re ready to make a late charge for the top four.
Following a fourth consecutive 0-0 draw between the two struggling Premier League giants, Liverpool sit in eight position, seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with 10 games remaining. Chelsea, who parted ways with Potter following a 2-0 home loss to Aston Villa on Saturday, remain in the bottom half of the table, in 11th spot.
While Chelsea had a change on the bench, Liverpool had a new-look lineup, with Jurgen Klopp making six changes to the side that lost 4-1 at Manchester City. Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson all started on the bench, while Virgil van Dijk missed out due to illness.
Meanwhile, Saltor made two changes from Potter’s last lineup in charge, including handing a first start since August to N’Golo Kante. And the World Cup winner showed just why Potter will have been so disappointed to have Kante available for just 33 minutes during his seven months in charge.
Kante put in a typically all-action first-half performance, equally proficient at stymying Liverpool attacks and starting them for his own team.
But despite dominating much of the first 45 minutes, Chelsea’s inability to finish chances continued to prove prove their undoing.
The lively Joao Felix worked his way through on goal after just four minutes but allowed Joel Matip to get back and make a crucial block. Just a minute later, Liverpool’s other centre-back, Ibrahima Konate, made a vital intervention of his own when clearing off the line after Mateo Kovacic had rounded Alisson.
It was then time for the Liverpool keeper to thwart the hosts when coming out to block in front of Kai Havertz on the edge of the six-yard box.
Chelsea did have the ball in the Liverpool goal midway through the first half but Reece James’ emphatic volley following a corner was ruled out for offside against Enzo Fernandez from the initial flick-on.
Only in first-half stoppage time did Liverpool produce any meaningful threat on the Chelsea goal. Joe Gomez forced Kepa Arrizabalaga to turn a long-range effort behind and from the resulting corner Fabinho looked set to burst the net but Wesley Fofana got his head to the Brazilian’s shot to take it off target.
The same story continued in the second half. Kovacic wasted another golden chance for Chelsea when he shot high over the bar when played clean through. The hosts then had another goal ruled out, though there could be no debate about the decision.
Played in behind the Liverpool defence by Kante, Havertz shot straight at Alisson and although it rebounded straight to the Chelsea attacker and into the net, it did not take long for the video assistant referee to rule that it had gone in off Havertz’s arm.
Klopp soon turned to his bench for a spark when bringing on Salah and Robertson, but neither they nor Chelsea had the quality or cutting edge required to take all three points.