The two preseason title favorites have ascended to the top of the table, level on points, even, and look set to fight it out for the rest of the season. While no team have defended a Premier League title in over a decade, Manchester City were made favorites to do so (and rightly so), with Klopp’s three-year project at Liverpool finally pushing the Reds into that stratosphere as well. The end, as far as all others are concerned? Maybe not.
Sarri’s entering his third month of competitive action with Chelsea, sitting just two points behind the pair of them in third place. He didn’t expect the Blues to be this far along already. It’s getting harder and harder to keep downplaying expectations.
“We have started only two months ago I think [we are doing] very well. Maybe they [Liverpool] are one step ahead but I am starting to think we can recover in one season.
”I am disappointed for the moment they scored but I am really happy with the performance. We played against a top level team and we played very well with quality and intensity.
”I have the feeling we are improving match by match. I think we have the quality in the offensive phase. I think the players have been very intelligent to learn so quickly the offensive phase.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Eurosport
Hazard shared his manager’s post-match thoughts, rueing specifically the big chance he missed 1-v-1 with Alisson but firmly believing that Chelsea have show the ability to challenge the league’s best. That’s something no one thought just a couple months, when Manchester City easily dismissed the Blues in the Community Shield, 2-0.
“I am a bit disappointed I didn’t score in the second half. When you are winning 1-0 and concede a goal at the end you can be sad but I think the draw is the fair result.
”I think we can challenge against Liverpool, with [Manchester] City too. These are the best teams in the country. We are not far, we are winning games and confidence is high.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Eurosport
Sturridge’s late equalizer made the draw feel like a loss, but certainly both teams had plenty of chances to change the score well before then. Chelsea cleared off the line twice and Arrizabalaga made a tremendous save on Sadio Mané. At the other end, Alisson twice denied Chelsea 1-v-1 and played the sweeper-keeper role to perfection. The game didn’t feature too many shots (23 combined, with 10 on target), but both sides were seemingly capable of scoring at a moment’s notice.
xG map for Chelsea - Liverpool. What a game.— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) September 29, 2018
Liverpool scored only their lowest expected goals chance of the match. pic.twitter.com/zLOvwmNN4H
Last year’s 1-0 win over Champions League final-bound Liverpool in May shows that results don’t always tell the whole story of a season or of a team’s capabilities, but Chelsea’s excellent start to the season is supposed to be only the start of Sarri-ball’s potential. Previously, the head coach talked about the need to shape up defensively (as a team) and with each game, those improvements seem to be coming along.
Chelsea now face two games before the October international break — Vidi FC at home in the Europa League and Southampton away next weekend — before hosting Manchester United three weeks from now in what could become a very interesting game indeed depending on Mourinho’s situation up north, and of course our own continuing evolution.
As ever, we just take it one match a time and who knows what could happen, right David Luiz?
“We tried to do our best to win the game and we continue to work hard every day. The season is long, it’s just the beginning. Let’s continue to play.”
-David Luiz; source: Chelsea FC
Onwards and upwards!