Potter plan (almost) pays off Chelsea’s schedule throughout Graham Potter’s time in charge has been relentless. However, prior to the trip to Anfield, the Blues head coach had a week on the training pitches at Cobham with his players. That was evident in how Chelsea performed, especially in the opening period. The space behind Liverpool’s full-backs was constantly exposed through darts forward by Conor Gallagher and Mason Mount.
Kai Havertz also performed well; the German reclaimed possession multiple times in the Liverpool half due to Chelsea’s press being more organised. Unfortunately for Potter, Chelsea were not able to claim the goal they desperately required. Kai Havertz did have the ball in the net early on only to be denied by VAR. Benoit Badiashile also had a close-range header saved by Alisson.
Chelsea were not as effective in the Liverpool half in the second period, part of that was down to the diminished effect Havertz had on proceedings as Liverpool stepped up their intensity. Importantly for Potter, there were positives to take back to Cobham, where Chelsea will spend much of the next two weeks working under their head coach.
“We’re happy with the performance of the team, happy with the energy, spirit and discipline we had,” said Potter. “It’s never easy coming here because of Liverpool’s quality and Anfield. So we take the point, we accept it, and we move forward in a positive way Silva service continues It has not been difficult to praise Thiago Silva throughout his time at Chelsea.
The Brazilian is the epitome of on-pitch class; it’s why at 38 years old he remains one of the Premier League’s standout central defenders. Silva’s impact on his teammates is immense. His English may not be word-perfect but he is a leader, someone who offers constant guidance and passionate cajoling. He does not accept anything from his supporting cast but maximum effort.
His influence is best highlighted by the effortless nature Benoit Badiashile, who arrived for £34million from Monaco, has stepped into the Chelsea side. The Frenchman made his debut against Crystal Palace last week and followed it up with another solid outing at Anfield. Defensively he was assured and he was not afraid to play forward when the occasion presented itself. “I needed to be calm on my debut and after that, all the team helped me, above all Thiago,”
Badiashile told Chelsea’s in-house media after the goalless draw at Anfield.
“He gave me plenty of advice, both before the match and on the pitch as well. It made it easier for me to perform well. “I really got to know the intensity of the Premier League. It was a special sensation, a good debut with a win and a clean sheet, and now I have to keep working hard and giving my maximum.”
The clean sheet was Chelsea’s first on the road since October. Silva was crucial to that.
“He’s got a football brain that is pretty much above everybody,” admitted Potter. “He understands the game and he’s played for so long at the highest level. The players he’s played with, the players he’s played against, his references are so strong that he can help the team and individuals.
“He’s got Benoit [Badiashile] next to him, just his second game in the Premier League, and I’m sure he benefits from playing alongside Thiago. Everyone benefits from him. He is a leader on the pitch, leader off the pitch. He is a really important player”
Mudryk makes his mark Chelsea were the better side during the opening 45 minutes. Chances had been created, frustratingly all had been missed. And at the start of the second period, Liverpool wrestled momentum their way. Potter needed to react, and so he turned to new signing Mykhailo Mudryk. The Ukrainian had not played a competitive minute since November but, barring one loose touch, showed no ring rust.
Mudryk demonstrated his lightning-quick pace soon after his introduction; James Milner was forced to chop down the 22-year-old to halt a promising Chelsea counter. His standout moment arrived soon after. Mudryk exchanged passes with Conor Gallagher, danced through two challenges from Liverpool defenders, and drilled his shot into the side netting.
It was nothing more than a glimpse of Mudryk’s huge talent, but it was enough to lift the supporters and his teammates. Mudryk had a couple of further half-chances to score, both from Hakim Ziyech crosses. Yet what stood out was the trust the winger’s new teammates placed in him. The Ukraine international was regularly given the ball in tight spaces; Jorginho even yelled at the youngster on one occasion to collect a loose ball in Chelsea’s own half to relieve pressure. There is more to come from Mudryk. Chelsea supporters know that. As does Potter.
“He’s only been with us a couple of days and he’ll get better the more he is with us and the more we understand him and vice versa,” said the Chelsea head coach. “Our job is to help him settle into the team, help him settle into the country and league, and gain an understanding of us and how we can help him.”