Chelsea’s defiant 10 men cramp Liverpool’s style to show their title intent

Cesar Azpilicueta was laying on his back, clutching his face, when Thiago Silva appeared just a few yards away. The Brazilian veteran’s boots were securely on his feet but he crouched down and pulled at the laces, before doing them back up again. Only a few seconds remained and Chelsea was within reach of a draw that felt like victory when they boarded the bus to Anfield.

Azpilicueta hadn’t been touched above his shoulder as he bumped against Sadio mane. However, he continued to tick the clock by holding onto his face to suggest that something serious had happened.

It is not surprising that Thomas Tuchel described the team as “playing like” “brothers”. They were on the exact same page as they raced down the clock, keeping Liverpool at bay with a performance that confirmed their claim to the Premier League title.

Antonio Rudiger fell ill with cramp in the final 90 seconds. Edouard Mendy was able to help him get up. “It’s a terribly contagious disease, 92nd-minute cramp,” the commentator said during match coverage on Chelsea’s official website.

Mendy himself was a master at using up 30 seconds to take a goal-kick, timed perfectly to avoid sanction from referee Anthony Taylor but to puncture the tempo of Liverpool’s attacks as they looked to take advantage of Reece James’ dismissal. The Chelsea goalkeeper had been booked himself for a melee with Liverpool players after booting the ball away after Mohamed Salah’s penalty equaliser.

Three months ago, Chelsea was not crowned European champions without a ruthless streak. This streak was displayed at Anfield when they scored a memorable point. It’s a dark art, but every Premier League team does it. Anfield was just Chelsea’s masters at this.

Class Rings

Even as Salah was preparing to cancel out Kai Havertz’s opener, Jorginho was in his eye line and within earshot, testing whether his opponent had the nerve to take penalties as coolly as he does. From the moment Salah scored it was Chelsea against the wall.

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Their result came with Mendy and Rudiger on yellow cards after their side were reduced to 10 men moments earlier for James’ handball on the line. “It’s too much . . . it’s too much,”Tuchel yelled at Craig Pawson the fourth official.

They also had Thiago making his first appearance since the Copa America final in July, but reading the game perfectly in the heart of Chelsea’s defence, which switched to a 5-3-1 formation after James went.

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager laughed at the stoppages before expressing anger. Midway through the second-half, a bottle was found on the pitch. It was consumed for a few seconds and all contributed to the outcome. Jorginho slowly left after another great performance.

“I am almost dead,”Jorginho spoke highly about his efforts. “It was tough because when you are a man down at 1-1 for 45 minutes with the atmosphere, it is very hard not to concede. It’s a big challenge and we did it, so it was a big team effort. We are proud of what we did because we showed that we know that we can suffer sometimes and we can fight.”

Tuchel clenched one fist at the full time whistle, before congratulating his backroom staff and then his players. The German believes that the first dropped points of a season are as valuable as a win.

“It was that we played like brothers and we could rely on each other. That was the case in the first three matches and this result was the proof,”He said. “We deserved a little bit of luck to overcome some difficult situations and from here we need to go. When I tell people that we have to take care, they must also take care of their spirit and play again in next match. There is still a lot to do.

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“You can only play in the Premier League if you are a strong group and if you have the spirit to overcome difficulties and obstacles. It says that, at the moment, we have what it takes, we have the spirit, it says we have to take care about it, it says we are in a good way, nothing more, nothing less.”

Liverpool suffered a blow, with Roberto Firmino sustaining a hamstring injury that requires a scan, but a positive from the match was another start for Harvey Elliott, who has been called up for the England U-21s and looks at home in Klopp’s starting line-up.

“I’m just thankful for the coaching staff and for the team for believing in me and giving me these opportunities,”He said. “I think we had chances in the first half that we should have scored, or could have got shots away or created even more, to be honest.

“We tried to give it all we could in the second half, but we knew they were going to come out and be defensive, defend and shut up shop, really. We knew it was going to be hard to break down and, unfortunately, we just couldn’t do it.”

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