In the much-hyped showdown between Chelsea and Liverpool, the big winner was Manchester City. The Premier League leader and reigning champion saw its lead remain at double digits after the two teams behind it battled to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge in an electric encounter.
A contributing factor in the excitement was the fact that both Chelsea and Liverpool were looking for a win in the hope they could reduce the deficit behind Man City to single digits. As it stands, Chelsea (2nd, 43 points) is 10 points back and Liverpool (3rd, 42 points) is 11 points away though the Reds have a game in hand.
Liverpool looked to be cruising early with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah staking it out to a 2-0 lead after just 16 minutes, exposing the Chelsea defense on both goals. But the home team mounted an improbable comeback with a spectacular Mateo Kovacic volley proving the spark. A Christian Pulisic strike in transition completed the comeback just before the halftime whistle.
The two teams had enough energy to for a handful of incisive attacks to start the second half, but the two goalkeepers were up to the challenge. Chelsea ‘keeper Edouard Mendy was especially busy, denying both Sane and Salah on good opportunities. Then the teams eventually ran out of gas and the game fizzled out.
Chelsea could have used the help of $135 million star forward Romelu Lukaku, but he was dropped from the squad after his comments to Italian outlet Sky Sports Italia which were critical of manager Thomas Tuchel. The German coach said he axed Lukaku because there was too much noise created by the unauthorized interview. Another discussion between the two is scheduled for Monday.
Tuchel’s couterpart, Jurgen Klopp was not on the sideline for Liverpool due to a positive COVID-19 test, which is also the reason starters Alisson, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino were not available. Liverpool will also lose Mane, Salah and Naby Keita for the rest of the month of January at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Chelsea will give up Mendy to the same competition.
The fixture schedule doesn’t care: Both Chelsea and Liverpool will be involved in Carabao Cup (League Cup) semifinal action in midweek against Tottenham and Arsenal, respectively. After an FA Cup weekend, Chelsea’s next league match will be away to leader Man City on Jan. 15, while Liverpool is at home to Brentford on Jan. 16.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool final score
LIV — Sadio Mane — 9th min.
LIV — Mohamed Salah (Trent Alexander-Arnold) — 16th min.
CHE — Mateo Kovacic — 42nd min.
CHE — Christian Pulisic (N’Golo Kante) — 46th+ min.
(All times Eastern)
Final: Chelsea 2, Liverpool 2
90th min.: Four minutes of stoppage time, but not much happening. Both teams are making sure they’re not conceding anything. Meanwhile, Curtis Jones comes into the match for Sadio Mane.
79th min.: SUB — Callum Hudson-Odoi on for Kai Havertz who was in his first game back after a bout with COVID-19. The game could use a spark from someone like the speedy Hudson-Odoi, who will deploy his fresh legs at forward.
72nd min.: From his new right wingback position, Pulisic converges and fires a left-footed shot that just misses the top left corner of the goal. The Blues need to keep him involved in the attack.
69th min.: SUBS — Naby Keita on for James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in for Diogo Jota. Chelsea also makes a change with Jorginho coming on for Trevoh Chalobah, which forces Azpilicueta to move to right center back and Pulisic to fill in at right wingback.
62nd min.: Kelleher matching Mendy save for save in this second half. A Pulisic half-volley is right at the Liverpool ‘keeper, and he pulled off the reflex stop.
58th min.: Another save by Mendy! What a move by Liverpool, and it’s Mane who gets it in the box and rips a shot at goal, but Mendy parries. Liverpool continues to be the most dangerous between the two teams.
57th min.: What a save by Edouard Mendy on Mo Salah! The Egypt international went for the lob from distance, but Mendy was ready to parry it away for a corner. Great shot, great save.
52nd min.: Liverpool is really riding that Chelsea offside line. Diogo Jota blasts a volley that’s saved, but he’s ever so slightly in an offside position and the flag comes up.
51st min.: What a through ball from N’Golo Kante to Marcos Alonso, who puts it on his weaker right foot and fires high. Good move by Chelsea, but play is evenly matched once again between the two sides.
46th min.: Second half is underway and Sadio Mane immediately gets in behind and Kelleher makes the kick save, but the flag goes up. That’s the sort of danger Liverpool can create at any moment.
Halftime: Chelsea 2, Liverpool 2
Halftime: What a half of football. Liverpool was deadly in transition simply because it had the better quality in attack with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who knew exactly what to do in the penalty area. Chelsea didn’t have that same quality in front of goal and instead needed to break through on a worldie from Mateo Kovacic which came out of nowhere. The Blues then fed off that momentum to find an equalizer before the break on four touches, with Pulisic getting off the schneid after missing an earlier chance. Chelsea will need to keep feeding off the energy from its incredible comeback, otherwise Liverpool can strike at any time.
48th min.: Mount nearly gives Chelsea the lead! He shoots the ball into the ground toward the left post and it just misses wide.
46th min.: Pulisic ties it! N’Golo Kante pushes the ball into space on a quick transition and the American takes it in stride and lofts a left-footed shot past Kelleher. He needed that goal in the worst way.
42nd min.: What a goal from Mateo Kovacic! Chelsea pulls one back on the heels of a set piece thanks to a tremendous volley from Kovacic. He was at the top of the box and flicked it into the top corner. He was positioned there to clean up any rebounds and he got one.
32nd min.: There’s a long VAR look at a clash between Mason Mount and Tsimikas on the ground. Mount yanks his leg away from the tangle, but there’s nothing to it. Moments later Diogo Jota sends a ball across the front of the goalmouth, but there are no teammates there to take advantage. Meanwhile, Chelsea has no punch to its attack. You can say the Blues miss Romelu Lukaku.
26th min.: Goal Salah! He first beats Marcos Alonso on the right side of the box with a stutter step and then from a tight angle he shoots past Edouard Mendy at the near post. Liverpool’s attackers are simply better quality so far. That’s his league-leading 16th of the season.
25th min.: Couple of corners for Liverpool, but nothing comes of them. Still, the Reds look comfortable in this game.
20th min.: Marcos Alonso infuriates his Chelsea teammates and his coach with a volley from a tight angle when he should’ve tried to center the ball. You can sense the tension and nerves in the Chelsea ranks right now.
17th min.: CAUTION — Pulisic gets a yellow for a reckless sliding foul on Diogo Jota. Good call by the referee.
9th min.: Goal Liverpool! Defender Trevoh Chalobah misjudges the ball and attempts a low header, but he fails to clear. Sadio Mane picks it up, rounds Mendy and scores. Mane, who is lucky to be on the field, did what Pulisic failed to do earlier. That ended a streak of nine appearances without a goal for Mane.
7th min.: What a chance for Chelsea! Trent Alexander-Arnold is stripped of the ball in his own box and Pulisic is all alone against Kelleher, but he can’t get past him. What a stop by the back-up ‘keeper who pokes it away.
6th min.: Chelsea ‘keeper Mendy with the first save of the match against Mo Salah. It’s end-to-end so far. Lots of energy from both sides.
1st min.: After just 30 seconds, Sadio Mane could’ve seen red! He led with his forearm/elbow and sized up Cesar Azpilicueta. But the referee lets him off with a yellow. Thomas Tuchel is irate.
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) January 2, 2022
11:07 a.m.: What Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders had to say as he takes over from manager Jurgen Klopp for the day:
? “He will be a big miss, he’s our leader.”
Jordan Henderson wants Liverpool to get a result for Jurgen Klopp who won’t be on the touchline today pic.twitter.com/c2sZ0TZbKo
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 2, 2022
11:05 a.m.: Here’s how Thomas Tuchel explained his decision to drop Lukaku in his interview before the match:
“It got too noisy – that’s why he’s out.”
Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Super Sunday match with Liverpool, Thomas Tuchel explained why he has left Romelu Lukaku out of the match day squad. ❌ pic.twitter.com/MwpDcsn2wT
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 2, 2022
9:33 a.m.: The match will be notable for what happens on the field, but it will also carry significance for what’s taking place in the stands.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool lineups
The Lukaku absence will hit Chelsea hard since the team has already struggling with significant injury problems. The Blues lost another two important players during the last match against Brighton, as Reece James and Andreas Christensen are now shelved. They join Ben Chilwell and Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the sidelines. Thiago Silva makes it back from hamstring trouble.
Edouard Mendy is in his final match for Chelsea before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations, but Hakim Ziyech is available throughout the next month, as he was left off Morocco’s squad. Kai Havertz is back from his bout with COVID-19, meaning Timo Werner is likely not far behind, though he doesn’t make the squad vs. Liverpool.
Chelsea starting lineup (3-4-3, left to right): 16-Edouard Mendy (GK) — 14-Trevoh Chalobah, 6-Thiago Silva, 2-Antonio Rudiger — 3-Marcos Alonso, 8-Mateo Kovacic, 7-N’Golo Kante, 28-Cesar Azpilicueta (capt.) — 10-Christian Pulisic, 29-Kai Havertz, 19-Mason Mount.
Chelsea substitutes (9): 1-Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK), 31-Malang Sarr, 75-Lewis Hall, 5-Jorginho, 17-Saul Niguez, 18-Ross Barkley, 20-Callum Hudson-Odoi, 68-Harvey Vale, 22-Hakim Ziyech
Klopp previously indicated there were three players that would miss the game due to COVID-19 and the club has finally named them: Alisson , Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip .
Thiago is again struggling with a groin problem. Left back Andy Robertson is still out, the final of his three-match ban for picking up a straight red. Takumi Minamino is questionable due to muscle soreness, having missed out against Leicester City. Divock Origi is sidelined with a knee problem.
Liverpool starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): 62-Kaoihmin Kelleher (GK) — 21-Konstantinos Tsimikas, 5-Ibrahima Konate, 4-Virgil Van Dijk, 66-Trent Alexander-Arnold — 7-James Milner, 3-Fabinho, 14-Jordan Henderson (capt.) — 10-Sadio Mane, 20-Diogo Jota, 11-Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool substitutes (9): 97-Marcelo (GK), 13-Adrian (GK), 12-Joe Gomez, 76-Neco Williams, 8-Naby Keita, 17-Curtis Jones, 63-Owen Beck, 15-Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 80-Tyler Morton
How to watch Chelsea vs. Liverpool
- Date: Sunday, Jan. 2
- Time: 11:30 a.m. ET
- TV channel: USA Network
- Spanish-language TV: Telemundo
- Streaming: fuboTV , NBCSports.com (authenticated users)
The Sunday match between Chelsea and Liverpool from Stamford Bridge will be broadcast on USA Network (English) and Telemundo (Spanish) in the USA.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool betting tip, pick & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
The news that Lukaku has been dropped from the squad and that Klopp will not be on the bench for Liverpool has not moved the lines all that much. It’s still very much a toss-up.
The Draw No Bet is at -110 for both sides (a draw is a push). That presents an opportunity for a flyer on Liverpool if you believe the Lukaku-Tuchel controversy surrounding Chelsea will continue to drag down a Blues team that has played poorly of late and is still struggling for fitness and form. Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will also be plenty motivated to leave their fans with a memorable showing.
Pick: Liverpool draw no bet (-110)
Prediction: Chelsea 0, Liverpool 2
- Moneyline: Chelsea +160 / Draw +245 / Liverpool +165
- Spread (Asian Handicap): Chelsea pick’em (-110) / Liverpool pick’em (-105)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over -125 / Under +105
- Both teams to score: Yes -165 / No +125