Chelsea and Liverpool played out a passionate and hard-fought goalless draw at Anfield, but some of the Blues’ attacking players will consider themselves unlucky not to have broken the deadlock, with Mykhailo Mudryk and Conor Gallagher catching the eye as we delve into the statistics from this Premier League fixture.
As the scoreline suggests, it wasn’t a game full of chances at Anfield, but when they did arrive for both sides they were decent openings, even if neither team was able to make them count.
As the expected goals average suggests, both teams will feel they could have found the net, although a draw was probably a fair result, even if Chelsea just edged it on the quality of chances, including early on when Thiago Silva struck the woodwork and Kai Havertz was ruled offside by VAR when he turned in the rebound.
Mudryk adds spark
Cesar Azpilicueta came off the bench to make his 500th appearance in a Chelsea shirt, providing a couple of crucial defensive contributions, but arguably the substitute who most caught the eye was Mykhailo Mudryk.
A couple of our opportunities fell the way of Mudryk, the new signing from Shakhtar Donetsk who came on to make his Chelsea debut in the second half, as the Ukrainian made a notable impact on the game during his first 35 minutes of Premier League action.
His pace and skill posed a constant threat to the Liverpool backline, acknowledged be Reds boss Jurgen Klopp when he instantly chose to replace James Milner with the quicker Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back following Mudryk’s introduction by Graham Potter.
The fact that Mudryk offered something different for Potter’s side, with his direct running and willingness to take on opponents one-on-one, was clear by the fact his four attempted dribbles and two successful dribbles during those 35 minutes were both the most of any Chelsea player at Liverpool and the joint highest of any player on the pitch.
It wasn’t just about taking risks for the winger, though, as his 92.9 per cent pass accuracy was also the best of any player who featured for at least 10 minutes, second only to Curtis Jones who completed all three of his attempted passes during a nine-minute cameo.
He also did his part defensively, with only Marc Cucurella (six), Jorginho and Thiago Alcantara (both five) managing more than Mudryk’s three successful tackles.
Another player who impressed was Conor Gallagher, who took on a slightly different role than we have usually seen him occupy for Chelsea this season. While still managing to get forward and play his part in the attack (his two shots were the second highest for the Blues and one on target joint highest with Benoit Badiashile), Gallagher was also crucial to our attempts to win back possession.
He seemed to be intent on covering every blade of grass at Anfield, popping up all over the pitch to harry the Liverpool players on the ball and put them under pressure, while attempting to unsettle the opposition in crowded areas in possession.
He was involved across the board of defensive statistics, with one tackle, two interceptions and two clearances, while his combative style and willingness to get stuck in are shown by the fact he both conceded the most free-kicks (four) and was the joint-most fouled player (three, level with Liverpool midfielder Thiago).
Ziyech the creator
Although most of the play occurred down our left flank, with 43 per cent of Liverpool’s attacks and 44 per cent of our own coming down that side, Hakim Ziyech seemed one of the most likely to make something happen for the Blues as he took advantage of the space on the right that focus on the opposite wing afforded him.
Ziyech stuck close to the right touchline and used his delivery with his left foot to threaten the opposition’s box on a number of occasions, both by creating chances for team-mates and taking efforts at goal himself.
His three shots was the highest for the Blues – second only to the scattergun approach taken by Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo, who had seven attempts with one on target – and he also played the joint-highest number of key passes for either team, level with Mason Mount on three.
It is Ziyech’s 11 crosses into the box that really stand out, though, with the next highest for Chelsea being two, by Gallagher. Given our starting striker Kai Havertz demonstrated his ability in the air at Anfield – his six aerial duels won was twice as many as any other player, Badiashile and Gakpo being the next best on three each – the Moroccan can feel unlucky not to have seen one of those deliveries result in the opening goal.