Football News

Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool player ratings: Pochettino’s “tactically outstanding” Blues leave pundits excited

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:45, 13 August 2023

Mauricio Pochettino took charge of his first Premier League game as Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Liverpool this afternoon.

An intriguing encounter between two of Europe’s five most recent champions — one side rebuilding the other hoping to relaunch themselves back into title contention — saw Luis Diaz put the visitors in front before Chelsea’s new boy Axel Disasi levelled proceedings.

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A slew of players were making their debuts on either side but there were still many familiar names to watch. As the dust settles here’s how the players rated at Stamford Bridge:

Chelsea

Robert Sánchez – 5.5 – Presumably signed in a backup role but with Kepa on his way out Robert Sanchez was promoted but the former Brighton shot-stopper looked far from convincing on debut.

Levi Colwill – 7 – It’s easy to forget this is Levi Colwil’s first game for Chelsea, the much-wanted England U21 defender looked nervy to begin with but grew into the game and finished strongly. “I thought Chelsea were tactically outstanding. Colwill and Chilwell couldn’t work out what to do in the first half with Salah. He was given too much space, but they grew into the game,” said Micah Richards.

Thiago Silva – 6.5 – The ageless Brazilian defender is living proof that experience is invaluable. There was a moment when it looked like Nunez was going to break free but Silva timed his run well and extinguished the danger.

Axel Disasi – 7 – Only completed his move from Monaco earlier this month so you wouldn’t expect him to debut here, but Pochettino thought otherwise and the 25-year-old French centre-back repaid his manager’s unexpected faith with a scrappy — but much-needed — equaliser.

Ben Chilwell – 7.5 – Tasked with keeping tabs on England teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Chelsea full-back seemed to have been instructed to hug the left touchline and stay very high, but it proved easier said than done. He did, though, provide the assist for Disasi’s equaliser. Seconds later put the Blues in front but timed his run too early. Chilwell also came alive in the second half with continuous bombs down Chelsea’s left flank.

Carney Chukwuemeka – 6 – Went into Anthony Taylor’s book early following a very lazy high boot on Ibrahima Konaté in midfield and catching him on the shoulder. He immediately put that moment behind him and ultimately showed enough promising signs on debut.

Enzo Fernández – 8 – A tactical switch, in this instance moving Enzo into a deeper role, paid dividends as it allowed him to seamlessly receive possession, turn and then set up another Chelsea attack.  He made 33 passes into the final third 13 more than any of his teammates and nearly double by a Liverpool player. “I thought Enzo Fernandez was outstanding. We’ve seen him play in a deeper role and now look at him and think he was wasted. We’ve seen a different way Chelsea can play with him,” came Micah Richards’ verdict at full-time.

Conor Gallagher – 5 – Started as Chelsea’s deepest midfielder and was caught out a couple of times.

Reece James – 7.5 – Recently named Chelsea skipper, undoubtedly a proud moment for the homegrown defender, but there was more he could have done in the build-up to Liverpool’s opener.

“James needed to be alive at the far post. Diaz ran off him. He didn’t anticipate that Salah was going to produce that quality. He was asleep and he didn’t sprint back,” Gary Neville noted on Sky Sports commentary.

James soon made amends playing brilliantly down Chelsea’s right side and produced numerous attacking crosses. However, left early perhaps a precautionary measure given his recent injury history.

Nicolas Jackson – 6.5 – He really should have put Chelsea in front just before half-time. “Jackson had a good look at it, but he just leaned back. This will be a frustrating season for Chelsea if their strikers continue to miss chances,” came Neville’s immediate response.

Raheem Sterling – 7.5 – It seems to always be a fiery affair whenever Sterling faces his former side. There wasn’t much tension in today’s game as before and crucially for Pochettino it was the right-hand side which brought Chelsea joy with Sterling in particular getting into good positions. “He really has been a problem,” Neville said.


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Substitutes:

Malo Gusto (for James 75) – N/A – A late sub.

Mykhailo Mudryk (for Chukwuemeka 81) – N/A – A late sub.

Ian Maatsen (for Sterling 81) – N/A – A late sub.

Lesley Ugochukwu (for Chilwell 89) – N/A – A late sub.


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Liverpool

Alisson Becker – 6 – He would be disappointed to not keep a clean sheet especially when his goal wasn’t besieged for large spells of the game.

Andy Robertson – 5.5 – A much quieter game for the oft-marauding full-back though Robertson stuck to his defensive task well. No one in Red won possession on more occasions than him.

Virgil van Dijk – 6.5 – First official game as Liverpool captain so you can forgive Van Dijk for being nervous. That said the Dutch colossal — who received plenty of criticism last season — wasn’t overwhelmed and even saw a spectacular effort miss the top corner by inches.

Ibrahima Konaté – 6 – Gave as good as he got. Konate was kept busy throughout and made no fewer than seven game-high clearances.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6 – His beautifully weighted Michael Laudrup-esque pass deserved a goal. Spotted the run of Salah but VAR ruled it offside. Booked after faking a couple of throw-ins. The crime went down as time-wasting.

Cody Gakpo – 3.5 – A passenger throughout. “We haven’t seen enough of Gakpo in this game,” was Jamie Carragher’s verdict.

Alexis Mac Allister – 7 – He may not be a holding midfielder but Mac Allister’s distribution can never be doubted. Sensational pass to Salah, who was ice cool in teeing up Diaz for the deadlock-breaking goal.

Dominik Szoboszlai – 7 –  Nothing eye-catching on debut but Szoboszlai looks at home in Liverpool’s midfield. The recruit from Leipzig ended the game as their puppet master with three chances created.

Luis Díaz – 6 – He loves playing against Chelsea. In a recent FA Cup final the Colombian was named MOTM, and it was Diaz who put Liverpool in front today. He slide home from close range after Salah spectacularly picked him out.

Diogo Jota – 5 – Never got into the game and was taken off with considerable time left on the clock.

Mohamed Salah –  6.5 Had the game’s first real opportunity when he struck the crossbar after Liverpool broke so quickly and cleverly. It wouldn’t be long before Salah truly made an impact when his peach of a pass was converted by Luis Diaz before 20 minutes had been played. Wasn’t too happy when taken with 15 minutes remaining.

Substitutes:

Curtis Jones (for Gakpo 65) – 5 – His presence was required after Chelsea bossed the midfield battle early into the second.

Darwin Nunez (for Jota 65) – 5 – He couldn’t change the tide from an attacking perspective.

Ben Doak (for Salah 75) – N/A – A late sub.

Harvey Elliott (for Diaz 75) – N/A – A late sub.

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