Chelsea Fight Back To Draw With Liverpool As Poch Era Begins  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 1 Liverpool 1

Axel DisasiChelsea began the Mauricio Pochettino era with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool in a hard-fought encounter at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend of the Premier League.

Liverpool were dealt an early blow before arriving at Stamford Bridge after Moises Caicedo appeared to turn them down in favour of Chelsea despite agreeing a British record £111m transfer with Brighton for the midfielder on Friday.

But it was Liverpool that struck first as Luis Diaz ghosted in at the back post to convert Mohamed Salah's fine through ball after a mix-up in the Chelsea defence in the 18th minute. Chelsea equalised through debutant defender Axel Disasi - one of four for the new-look Blues - from close-range after a 37th-minute corner.

Salah and Ben Chilwell both had goals ruled out by the VAR for tight offsides in an action-packed first half in which the Liverpool forward struck the bar. Had Chelsea been more clinical though Pochettino could have been taking home all three points in his first outing as Blues boss.

Player ratings

Chelsea: Sanchez (6), Disasi (8), Silva (8), Colwill (7); James (7), Enzo (9), Gallagher (7), Chilwell (8); Sterling (7), Jackson (7) Chukwuemeka (6).

Subs: Gusto (5), Maatsen (5), Mudryk (6), Ugochukwu (n/a).

Liverpool: Alisson (8), Alexander-Arnold (7), Konate (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7); Mac Allister (7), Szoboszlai (7), Gakpo (5); Diaz (8), Jota (7), Salah (8).

Subs: Nunez (6), Jones (6), Doak (5), Elliott (6).

Player of the match: Enzo Fernandez.

How the Poch era began at the Bridge

All the talk leading up to this game had been about the transfer battle for Caicedo. As soon as the action kicked off it became clear why both teams are so willing to throw such big sums at Brighton for the 21-year-old with each defence exposed early on by a lack of a midfield protector.

Liverpool's attack-minded side took control of the game and Salah struck the bar with a right-footed effort from around the edge of the box as Pochettino's rather unfamiliar back line - three of which were debutants, including goalkeeper Robert Sanchez struggled early on.

Alexis Mac Allister was pulling the strings in the holding role and he found Salah down the right to tee up Diaz for Liverpool's opener after 18 minutes as he finished off the Egypt forward's low cross at the back post after a mix-up between Disasi and Reece James.

Salah thought he had doubled Liverpool's lead with half an hour gone after Trent Alexander-Arnold put him through on goal until VAR chalked it off for offside.

Chelsea were given a new lease of life after the goal was disallowed and equalised through Disasi as he scrambled the ball over the line after Chilwell headed the ball back into the box following a corner. Nicolas Jackson could - and probably should - have put Chelsea in front just before the break but skied James' low cross over the bar.

Liverpool had appeals for a penalty turned down by the referee after the ball struck the arm of Jackson in the box early in the second half. VAR took a long look back at the incident but the Chelsea striker was given the benefit of the doubt with his arm tucked in to his body.

Alisson came to the rescue for Liverpool as he produced two big stops to deny Chilwell and Jackson in the second half. The game became stretched as both sides looked for the killer blow but neither Chelsea nor Liverpool seemed to have the fitness levels to maintain the high-octane tempo of the first half

The introduction of the substitutes sparked the game back into life in stoppage time as the fresh legs injected energy into the contest. Darwin Nunez first seeing a deflected effort go just wide of the Chelsea post before Alisson had to use his large frame to show Mykhailo Mudryk wide when through on goal.

Pochettino received a rapturous applause after signs of promise in his first game after a nightmare first season for the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital project. Liverpool remain lethal offensively but must address the lack of balance in midfield before the close of the transfer window if they are to compete at the top of the table.

Poch: We need to grow every single day

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino speaking to Sky Sports:

"I think we deserved a little bit more overall. We feel pleased, but at the same time disappointed because we wanted to win and we 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 and 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 moment they were there, they never gave up and always believed in the team and the team felt the energy from the crowd.

"It was difficult from the beginning but how we grew in the game and how we found the way to play and how we started to dominate and push Liverpool deeper and deeper, I am very pleased about everything.

"We need to grow every single day."

Trent: We couldn't keep up fast start

Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold speaking to Sky Sports:

"I was a difficult game as Chelsea are always going to make it difficult. They've made a lot of changes and so we have to fit a new system and they've tried to make a point after last season.

"You probably take a point at Stamford Bridge if you get offered it at the start of the season. We build from this now.

"We prepared for them to go 4-3-3 and they set up with a back three and made it hard for us to play, pressed high.

"I thought we played well for the first 25 minutes but we couldn't keep it up for some reason.

"There then comes a time away from home where you switched it up and you take a point."

Chilwell: I knew Disasi would score

Chelsea full-back Ben Chilwell told Sky Sports:

"In the first half an hour today, we weren't really up to it. They were definitely the better side.

"When their second goal went in and it was disallowed we got a bit of a boost. Our confidence started to come and we started to play how the manager wants us to play for the rest of the game.

"We did set pieces yesterday as you do the day before a game, so I went up to him and told him he would score tomorrow. We manifested it."

What's next?

Chelsea visit West Ham next Sunday August 20 live on Sky Sports; kick off 4.30pm. Liverpool, meanwhile, host Bournemouth at Anfield the previous day at 3pm.

Click Here for Official Teamsheet


Chelsea Sanchez; Disasi, Silva, Colwill; James (c) (Gusto 76), Chukwuemeka (Maatsen 81), Fernandez, Gallagher, Chilwell (Ugochukwu 90); Sterling (Mudryk 81), Jackson
Subs Not Used Bergstrom, Cucurella, Santos, Madueke, Burstow
Booked Chukwuemeka, Fernandez, Jackson
Goals Disasi 37

Liverpool Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk (c), Robertson; Mac Allister, Szoboszlai; Salah (Elliott 77), Gakpo (Jones 66), Diaz (Doak 77); Jota (Nunez 66)
Subs Not Used Kelleher, Gomes, Matip, Tsimikas, McConnell
Booked Jota, Alexander-Arnold, Mac Allister
Goals Diaz 18

Attendance 40,096

Referee Anthony Taylor

VAR Darren England