Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool: ‘Signs of hope for those wearied by Chelsea chaos’

13 August 2023 0 By Total Football News

Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly looked down from his Stamford Bridge executive box to watch the fourth manager of his dysfunctional tenure standing in the technical area opposite.

Mauricio Pochettino is the latest incumbent charged with making sense of the scattergun and unstructured strategy employed by Boehly and his partner Behdad Eghbali over the last year.

And while it is far too early to make any pronouncements on whether Pochettino will fare any better than his predecessors Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter – let’s not count Frank Lampard because he was little more than an unsuccessful seat warmer – there were at least signs that encouraged all those associated with, and wearied by, the recent chaos at Chelsea.

The boardroom chat between Boehly and Liverpool owner John Henry would have been compelling fly-on-the-wall fare given the latter hoped to have arrived in west London basking in the glory of the coup of a £111m British record deal for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo.

Liverpool buying Caicedo would not only be a statement of intent on the field but also a compelling answer to those who doubt the FSG ownership group’s willingness to fully compete with the Premier League’s financial heavy hitters.

Instead the Ecuador midfielder’s apparent preference for Chelsea has left Liverpool frustrated – and it was easy to see why the 21-year-old has become such a hot property as both teams showed attacking prowess allied to defensive frailty in an entertaining 1-1 draw.

The warm applause that echoed around Stamford Bridge and the appreciation shown to Pochettino, which the Argentine returned, was a measure of the positive signs on show and a response to the energy and attacking intent that has always been his trademark.

Chelsea had to suffer in the opening half hour when Mohamed Salah, who showed dissent when he was substituted late on, struck the bar then delivered a moment of sheer genius to set up a deserved opener for Luis Diaz.

Salah then had a goal ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside, Chelsea using the reprieve to bounce of the ropes and finally start landing counter-punches.

New defender Axel Disasi equalised before Ben Chilwell suffered a similar VAR fate to Salah – but Chelsea were up and running. While Liverpool had moments of their own after the break they relied on their outstanding keeper Alisson to keep out Chilwell and industrious new striker Nicolas Jackson.

Reece James showed the stature that persuaded Pochettino to make him Chelsea’s latest captain while the new manager constantly expressed his approval for his team’s efforts. They were entertaining.

Like Liverpool, Chelsea showed plenty going forward but looked leaky defensively. Caicedo’s purchase would help resolve this issue and the notion of him playing alongside Enzo Fernandez is a mouth-watering prospect.

Liverpool were angry they were refused a penalty after VAR studied a potential handball by Jackson but defeat would have been harsh on Chelsea and it was a result that certainly felt like it was better for Pochettino than counterpart Jurgen Klopp.

Pochettino said: “I think we deserved a little bit more overall. We are pleased but at the same time disappointed because we wanted to win and deserved to win but it is only the beginning.

“We have created a very good way to work here and that is important. It is about belief, about work and to trust each other. The connection from day one has been fantastic. The fans were always with us. Even in the difficult moments they were there. They never gave up, always believed, and the team felt the energy from the crowd.”

Owner Boehly infamously marched into the dressing room after Chelsea’s home defeat to Brighton last season to label their efforts “embarrassing” – which in his defence they were, even though his own wild £600m spending spree had contributed in large measure.

Boehly was seen strolling around the Stamford Bridge perimeter after this game with a far more contented expression on his face – and almost certainly en route to deliver a far more upbeat message after an encouraging start to the latest new era at Chelsea.

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