Liverpool and Chelsea have produced a long history of dramatic chances and classic games at Anfield. It wasn’t one of them.
When referee Michael Oliver blew the final whistle, Anfield’s near silence was a stark reflection that this game was nowhere near as entertaining as the 0-0 scoreline might suggest.
Indeed, Anfield have been overpowered throughout as two of the Premier League giants – currently going through a period of mutual struggle – provided graphic evidence of why their respective campaigns are ones of underachievement.
Liverpool and Chelsea, in their defence, can offer mitigating circumstances in the form of injuries and – in the case of the visitors – a remarkable frenzy in the transfer market which has seen a near capacity of new arrivals showing up at Stamford Bridge requiring an integration.
Yet there was still enough quality on the pitch to do better than the monument to mediocrity erected by Liverpool and Chelsea in those 90 minutes.
The Premier League table tells how the two teams, locked in a relentless pursuit of big prizes for the past few years, have currently fallen below their old standards.
At the final whistle, Liverpool sat eighth and Chelsea two behind them, nine points clear of the top four and those precious Champions League places after a dismal encounter with just five shots on target.
It was certainly not possible for Liverpool Jurgen Klopp to celebrate his 1,000th game in management.
That’s why the overwhelming feeling after that game, aside from the grim anticlimax, was that if you offer both Klopp and his Chelsea counterpart, Graham Potter, a place in that top four at the end of the season , they would vigorously shake your hand.
Both Klopp and Potter will be looking for bright spots and signs of optimism in any game and Chelsea can at least see one of their many new acquisitions as a huge upside from this stalemate.
Mykhailo Mudryk was coveted by both Arsenal and Chelsea once it became clear Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk would agree a deal for the exciting 22-year-old striker.
Arsenal were hoping to get their man, but Chelsea snuck out, and if the indications from his 35-minute cameo are any good, you can see why.
Mudryk caused panic in Liverpool veteran James Milner, unsurprisingly when Chelsea’s £89m striker gave his opponent 15 years and several yards of pace by playing in a position of right-back unknown.
Milner was forced to pick up a yellow card for taking down Mudryk as he passed him and it was no surprise when Klopp quickly replaced him with Trent Alexander-Arnold.
A spirited run ended with a shot into the side netting and a couple of ghost runs that left him unmarked at the far post didn’t really bring him much reward. Very early but the signs were promising.
Chelsea’s other newcomer, defender Benoit Badiashile, was also solid although he was guilty of wasting his side’s best chance by allowing Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson to save a header past The Kop as he should have scored.
Klopp could be pondering a clean sheet without defensive pivot Virgil van Dijk, but there is no doubt that the side which chased four trophies last season – winning the League Cup and FA Cup by beating Chelsea on penalties goal after goalless draws – is far from his best when measured in quality and intensity.
To some extent this is understandable as Liverpool are currently managing without the injured Van Dijk plus attacking trio Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino, but there just isn’t the same energy in the squad in any form. it is currently.
Klopp has added the £45million signing of Cody Gakpo to his squad and he is in a period of settling in, adjusting to the demands of the Premier League. He struggled to make an impact, apart from a cornering shot that was saved by Chelsea keeper Kepa in the second half, but Klopp will handle his introduction carefully and it will be easier after he was able to reintroduce Darwin Nunez in as a player. Substitute in the second half after injury.
In reality, however, Liverpool and Chelsea are enduring a rare struggle.
Liverpool have failed to win in their last three Premier League games and this is the first time they have had to score in consecutive league games since March 2021.
Chelsea, in turn, are winless away in the Premier League in their last six games, their worst run since September to December 2015.
Anfield’s indifference at the final whistle was a natural reaction to what the crowd witnessed, with little to warm them up in the sub-zero temperatures of Merseyside.
It looked like a mid-table game. It looked like a mid-table game. And that’s because it’s more or less a mid-table game right now.