Thomas Tuchel billed this visit to Anfield as an early season “stress test”, and we certainly got plenty of both: a big test and plenty of stress, Chelsea emerging with a hard-fought share of the points after 90 minutes, half of which we played a man down thanks a rash decision from Anthony Center Of Attention Taylor.
The red card for Reece James was the obvious talking point after the game, and whether it was the correct ruling by the letter of the law or not, Taylor’s decision to show the red card by just looking at a freeze frame on the replay VIDEO monitor did not sit well with anyone, including Tuchel himself.
“The red card spoils the game, I have no solution for it because maybe it is a red card because he denies a chance but it is also a deflection.
“I don’t know what happens and what doesn’t happen anymore. I was worried the referee looked at one photo and decided it was a red card. I would have liked a longer check. I can remember referees that explained if it is a deflection and it is not a very unnatural arm position it is not a penalty.”
Chelsea had taken the lead halfway through the first half, then wasted several excellent chance to add to that before the red card and the penalty, from which Mo Salah leveled the score.
The second half was pure defensive effort from the Blues, changing to essentially a 5-3-1 shape and almost completely nullifying Liverpool. It was beautiful in its own way, a testament to our defensive solidity under Tuchel and a well-earned reward for our resilience and attitude shown despite the injustice suffered on the stroke of half-time.
Tuchel was rightly pleased with the second 45 and the effort shown.
“With pure will, we took the heat out of the game. That was team effort at its very best. They never lost the shape, they tried to close the half spaces, we decided to stay in the back five and stay active in the back five because of all the runs from half spaces and fluid positions of the high full-backs of Liverpool, it was clear we would suffer.”
“I am absolutely happy [with the performance], we did our steps, like I said I was not so happy with the precision under pressure and the decisions we made under their pressure. But we are competitive and we want to stay competitive. I think our fans loved what they saw and in the end it was a deserved result and we can absolutely live with that.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Sky via BBC
The fact that we’re frustrated after a score-draw at Anfield can certainly be taken as a good sign for the season ahead. It took 12 to stop us from getting all three points.