Football Features

“Best passer in English football” – Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea ratings as 10-man Blues hold out

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:55, 28 August 2021

Liverpool and Chelsea played out a tempestuous 1-1 draw in the Premier League this evening.

The reigning European champions went into this game seeking back-to-back wins at the Reds home and went in front against the run of play through a spectacular Kai Havertz’s header.

Jurgen Klopp’s men responded and drew level on the stroke of half-time when Mohamed Salah netted from 12 yards after Blues defender Reece James was shown a straight red after handling on the goal line.

What soon followed was the 19-time English league winners pinning Thomas Tuchel’s side back and no matter how much Liverpool huffed and puffed they couldn’t blow down Chelsea’s door.

Here’s how the players rated at Anfield:

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Alisson – 5 – His only blemish was being on the wrong end of Havertz’s stunning opener. Once the Reds took control of the contest he was rarely called into action.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8 – When he is playing at his optimum level there isn’t a right-back in Europe more imperious than Alexander-Arnold whose perfectly weighted pass in the ninth minute for Jordan Henderson should have been converted. England legend Gary Lineker would subsequently describe him as “the best passer in English football”.

Joel Matip – 6 – Looked shaky at times especially whenever Lukaku was in his vicinity. He was fortunate that an individual error did not lead to Chelsea doubling their lead.

Virgil van Dijk – 7 – He was badly missed at Anfield last season and on days like this you can see what a big difference the Dutch colossus makes in Liverpool’s defence. The pre-game talk surrounded his mouth-watering duel with Lukaku but it never really took off.

Andrew Robertson – 6 – The forward-thinking Scotsman couldn’t have asked for a better first Premier League appearance of this season. He never stopped getting to Chelsea’s byline and on another day could have collected a league assist.

Harvey Elliott – 8 – Showing maturity well beyond his years, Harvey Elliott is playing with sheer confidence and has justified his spot in Jurgen Klopp’s starting lineup, the 18-year-old midfielder was unfortunate not to give Liverpool an early lead.

Jordan Henderson – 7 – Keeping things tidy in Liverpool’s engine room Henderson boasted an impressive 87.3% passing accuracy in the opposition half and came agonisingly close to registering another strike in this fixture.

Fabinho – 5 – Somehow he never entered Anthohy Taylor’s book following a string of questionable challenges. That aside it was another typical performance in the shadows. Liverpool’s dependable controlling midfielder.

Mohamed Salah – 8 – Stayed cool in the sea of madness after Liverpool were awarded a spot-kick just before half-time. He subsequently converted to draw the game level.  Even before this game-changing moment the Egyptian forward was a constant threat and he became an even bigger nuisance once Chelsea went down to 10 men.

Roberto Firmino – 4 – Selected ahead of Diogo Jota due to his ball-winning ability higher up the pitch. However an unfortunate injury saw him come off on the stroke of half-time.

Sadio Mané – 5 – As ever Mané’s heart was in the right place but this was another frustrating outing for the forward who did everything he could to break down the Blues rearguard. His energetic display ensured Azpilicueta and company were in for a long 90 minutes.


Diogo Jota (for Firmino 42) – 6 – You knew what you were going to get from Jota as soon as he came onto the pitch. Unlucky to not start, the former Wolves man was getting in the right positions but his decision-making was lacking.

Thiago (for Henderson 73) – 4 – Was unable to impose his metronic self onto this game as Liverpool seeked that one penetrative pass to bypass Chelsea’s impressive rearguard.

Konstantinos Tsimikas (for Robertson 5) – N/A – A late sub.

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Edouard Mendy – 7 – Under the cosh throughout the second half Mendy rose to the occasion to thwart Liverpool’s continual push for the winner. He ultimately ended the game with three saves.

César Azpilicueta – 6 – He could be proud of Chelsea’s second half defensive resolve. There’s a strong case to be made that ‘Dave’ is the Premier League’s most influential skipper.

Andreas Christensen – 7 – Handed the man-of-the-match award by Gary Neville on Sky television and it was rightfully deserved. Christensen was in the thick of it and more than made up for his sending off in the reverse game from last season.

Antonio Rüdiger – 6 – Came really close to losing his head soon after James was given his marching orders. He really composed himself in the second 45 minutes and showed why Tuchel thinks so highly of him.

Reece James – 5 – Tailed off towards the end of last season it’s fair to say James is now playing with renewed vigour. His pitch-perfect cross from a corner was the defender’s second assist in as many games. But that good work was undone when he saw red after handling on the line to gift Liverpool a reprieve.

Jorginho – 6 – The most striking thing about Jorginho’s performance today was his bleached blond hair. The newly-crowned ‘UEFA Men’s Player of the Year’ has enjoyed better days in a Blues jersey. He was hauled off before the end.

N’Golo Kanté – 6 – Before the game turned on its head the box-to-box French midfielder was his domineering self and had ample opportunities to penetrate Liverpool’s backline. He’d come off at the break as Tuchel rearranged his team after going a man down.

Marcos Alonso – 7 – Whenever he wasn’t being kept on his toes by Alexander-Arnold and Salah the Spanish left wing-back, who is keeping Ben Chilwell out of this team, proved to be one of Chelsea’s more adventurous players going forward.

Mason Mount – 6 – Mount is another Chelsea youngster growing in stature and he was unlucky to not double their lead before half-time to go with his goal at this stadium from last season.

Kai Havertz – 7 – Tuchel’s quiet assassin had been somewhat anonymous before scoring a sensational looping header in the 22nd minute. It took a while but there’s no question Havertz is now among Chelsea’s most important players. He was unfortunately sacrificed at the break following James’ sending off.

Romelu Lukaku – 6 – Arguably the most unpopular player at Anfield — given his Everton and Man Utd connections — the Belgian centre-forward relished his battles with Liverpool’s centre-half pairing and gave as good as he got though he never really tested Alisson even when both teams had the same number of men.


Thiago Silva (for Havertz 45) – 7 – Every ounce of experience in the 36-year-old’s body came to the fore in the second half. Tuchel couldn’t have called upon a better player for the job.

Mateo Kovacic (for Kanté 45) – 7 – His fresh legs made a significant difference in Chelsea’s renewed push to leave Anfield with a share of the spoils.

Trevoh Chalobah (for Jorginho 86) – N/A – A late sub.