The Debrief: Dramatic draw picked apart with Kovacic and Kante influence counted

For the second time in the 2021/22 season, a league meeting between Chelsea and Liverpool ended all square and a deep look at the figures generated by the thrilling encounter backs up any claims the draw was a relatively fair result...

The overall possession stats are in Chelsea’s favour with 55 per cent Blues ball across the 90 minutes, and Thomas Tuchel’s side playing 574 passes to Liverpool’s 463 with an 82 per cent accuracy to their 77 per cent.

However when it came to threatening the goal, both sides managed six shots on target each with Liverpool rated as having three big chances to Chelsea’s two, with each missing one of those.

There were certainly some fine saves among the four each Edouard Mendy and Caoimhin Kelleher managed between the posts, and with the Expected Goals (xG) numbers shown below, Liverpool marginally overachieved compared with Chelsea with the two goals they scored in reality.

Mateo masterclass

No one would have described Mateo Kovacic’s chance for his goal as a ‘gimme’, and it was not only the midfielder’s outstanding strike which caught the eye.

His heat map below indicates just how high and wide across the pitch he made his influence felt in a performance that had him voted man of the match by fans on The 5th Stand.

Kovacic’s total touches (105) were only surpassed by Cesar Azpilicueta’s 106, and characteristically the Croatian made the most successful take-ons by anyone in the game with four, and the most carries with 20. Six tackles won (from six attempted) were twice the next highest by Trevoh Chalobah and Azpilicueta, or from Liverpool, James Milner.

Selected to play alongside Kovacic was N’Golo Kante and he too had an influential game, creating three chances, the most by a player in the match. His assist for Pulisic’s goal is his first assist of the season.

Attacking intent

All the goals came in the first half but both sides pushed hard for a winner after the break, with eight of Chelsea’s total 15 shots coming in the second half, and four of the Merseysiders’ 10.

Across the 90 minutes, Marcos Alonso worked himself into four shooting positions and was on target with two of those efforts (one leading to a punched clearance volleyed back by Kovacic for his goal), while Mason Mount had four shots too, one of those working the goalkeeper. Christian Pulisic scored from one of three efforts and struck one of the others on target, and Kovacic’s goal came from three attempts.

Mohamed Salah had the most shots for Liverpool, with three out of four (including his goal) on target. Trent Alexander-Arnold managed the same total shots (two) as the scorer of the visitors’ other goal, Sadio Mane.

Pulisic moved from the attack to out wide after Azpilicueta dropped into the back-three following Chalobah’s 70th-minute substitution. Pulisic and Chalobah were the game’s most-fouled players with three fouls against them each.

Tuchel made two changes during the game with the other in attack when Callum Hudson-Odoi came on for Kai Havertz on 79 minutes. Havertz was top for passing accuracy, ahead of the defenders on this occasion with a percentage of 93. He had 29 touches of the ball.

One of the big talking points from the game is the yellow card shown to Liverpool goalscorer Mane right at the start. Opta report it as the earliest booking in a Premier League game since they began keeping exact times for the 2006/07 season.

In recovering from 2-0 down to secure a draw, Chelsea prevented Liverpool recording a third straight league win at Stamford Bridge, something we have avoided since 1972-74.

The result maintains the second-place Blues’ one-point lead over Liverpool although the Reds have played one game fewer.

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