Elliott sparkles again
Harvey Elliott would surely have felt a lot taller than his 5ft 7ins frame when he walked out into a wall of noise at Anfield.
The Liverpool youngster had been given the ultimate vote of confidence by Jurgen Klopp, handed only a second Premier League start for the visit of the European champions.
And the 18-year-old was intent on making the most of it.
Elliott buzzed around from the first whistle, narrowly wide with one shot from the edge of the area and then blazing a later chance over.
Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger was spooked into one mistake by Elliott’s mere presence, while Marcos Alonso elected to sit on the ball and pray for a free-kick having been caught out.
Elliott’s confidence and self-belief was clear, berating Sadio Mane for not being in the right position to accept a pass first half.
So too, though, was a touch of naivety, although given this was as high-octane as football can be, that was understandable.
One negative of Elliott being on the right of the midfield three was it shifted Jordan Henderson from his favoured position, the skipper less than convincing down the left during a first half in which the midfield as a package misfired too often.
Klopp will have duly noted that failing. But he, like everyone, will also have seen Elliott’s star continue to rise.
READ MORE: Liverpool player ratings against Chelsea
Klopp left with final transfer question
Not even setting Liverpool on their way to successive Premier League wins was enough for Diogo Jota to retain his starting place here.
It wasn’t entirely surprising, Roberto Firmino deemed better at keeping the ball up against three Chelsea centre-backs and capable of drifting off the frontline and pestering Jorginho.
At least that was the plan.
There were some flashes of threat before the Brazilian, nursing a hamstring complaint, made way shortly before the break for Jota.
Within minutes, the Portuguese was notably at the scene of the crime in the scramble that resulted in the red card for Reece James and Liverpool’s equaliser.
But Jota became increasingly peripheral in the second half as the Reds grew frustrated against the blanket Chelsea defence.
Mohamed Salah was a constant menace and Sadio Mane put himself about, even if his final ball wasn’t always the right one. Firmino, able to find pockets of space where few others can, would have been a huge asset as Chelsea sat deep. Typical.
Now the Brazilian’s injury will sharpen the focus on whether Liverpool decide there is enough forward depth – Takumi Minamino on the bench here, Divock Origi again not involved – or a new face is required by 11pm on Tuesday. The clock is ticking.
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Matip responds to Lukaku
It was dubbed the showdown between Virgil van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku – but for much of the first half it was Joel Matip up against the Chelsea striker.
And matters didn’t go particularly well for the Cameroonian, who struggled against the pace and brute strength of his opponent.
Matip, though, was undeterred. And the longer the game progressed, the more he gained a handle on Lukaku, the striker now having gone eight games against Liverpool without scoring.
Indeed, it was his good block that prevented the Chelsea man restoring the visitors’ lead after a rare moment of danger in the second half for Liverpool.
With Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez waiting on the bench, the competition for centre-back starting roles is already keeping players on their toes.
Not that Lukaku completely avoided Van Dijk, although their one-on-one battles were predominantly won by the Reds defender, again taking a step forward in terms of intensity and difficulty following his return from injury.
Andy Robertson had a more testing time on a first outing since his ankle injury – outjumped at the corner by Kai Havertz for Chelsea’s goal – and was replaced by Kostas Tsimikas for the closing stages. He, too, will know his place isn’t guaranteed, and like Matip wouldn’t want it any other way.