Liverpool, Chelsea look uneven amid Caicedo intrigue

LONDON — Chelsea could not beat Liverpool on the pitch, however a extra important end result than Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge is perhaps successful the race to signal Moisés Caicedo.

This was a contest which served as a 90-minute industrial explaining why each side are prepared to interrupt the British switch file for Brighton’s Caicedo — whereas additionally vying with one another to land one other midfielder with boundless potential, Southampton’s Romeo Lavia.

Sources advised ESPN that Caicedo’s choice is for a transfer to Stamford Bridge, and he could have been enthused additional by the promising indicators of progress below new supervisor Mauricio Pochettino.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, extra (U.S.)

On the similar time, there was additionally an apparent gap for him to fill within the facet, as was true of Liverpool, who deployed Alexis Mac Allister on the base of a three-man midfield comprising £60 million summer time signing Dominik Szoboszlai on one facet and Cody Gakpo on the opposite.

The advantage of having a extra attack-minded participant like Mac Allister function as a type of quarterback was evident in Liverpool’s opening objective on 18 minutes. A transfer which started with Alisson and concerned Szoboszlai noticed Mac Allister discover a superb go in behind for Mohamed Salah, who shimmied and delivered a chic cross to the far submit, the place Luis Díaz was available to slip the guests in entrance.

Szoboszlai and Mac Allister began the sport in spectacular style as Carney Chukwuemeka and Conor Gallagher floundered, the pair seemingly caught out by the tempo of the frenetic opening interval. Salah had a second objective dominated out for a decent offside name, and that reprieve helped Chelsea stir into motion. They equalised by means of debutant Axel Disasi on 37 minutes, earlier than one other VAR name denied them a dramatic turnaround, as Ben Chilwell went a fraction too quickly to transform a go by Enzo Fernández.

Anchored by the wonderful Enzo — probably the most constant midfielder on present right here — the Chelsea midfield grew in stature and helped dictate phrases for a lot of the second half as Szoboszlai and Mac Allister pale in affect.

The Blues ended with 65 % possession and a renewed sense of optimism, given they confirmed extra promise and function right here than anybody on this a part of west London would care to recollect given the travails of final season. The truth is, that possession determine was the fourth-highest any staff have managed in opposition to Liverpool in a Premier League sport since Jurgen Klopp was appointed in October 2015 — and probably the most by any staff other than Manchester Metropolis since February 2018.

Their urgent — a Pochettino hallmark — was wonderful at occasions however for the spells when it wasn’t, ideas turned to the management a participant resembling Caicedo might convey.

“[We conceded] one shot heading in the right direction in opposition to Liverpool. The staff was stable. We’d like good gamers, sure. We have to enhance the squad, sure. However that’s not new. We’re working actually exhausting,” Pochettino mentioned.

Liverpool will really feel the identical. There was lots to love about Szoboszlai and Mac Allister however the Reds had been alarmingly open with out the ball and the lack of Fabinho particularly felt marked on a day like this.

“That was really our downside within the sport, that we tried to shut the gaps by dropping reasonably than stepping in as we did to start with,” Liverpool supervisor Jurgen Klopp mentioned. “We should always have sorted that however the easiest way to keep away from these type of issues is to regulate the sport,

“Once we handed in the proper second, we created one-on-one conditions on the wing and that was difficult for Chelsea to cope with. It was the primary sport, not the final so we now have lots of issues to enhance however I noticed already a great foundation.”

Caicedo made 100 tackles and contested 376 duels for Brighton final season. The corresponding figures for Fabinho are 65 and 253 whereas for Jordan Henderson, who additionally left Liverpool in the summertime, had been 32 and 131. The distinction Caicedo might make is evident.

Whatever the switch window nonetheless being open, neither staff might count on to be the completed article on the opening weekend of the season given the rebuilds each have undertaken. There have been younger gamers aplenty and 5 debutants in whole: Robert Sánchez, Nicolas Jackson and Disasi for Chelsea along with Szoboszlai and Mac Allister for Liverpool.

In contrast with their first Premier League fixture of final season, solely 4 Chelsea gamers had been nonetheless within the beginning line-up. Liverpool’s determine was six however they nonetheless had a completely new midfield to mattress in.

To belief the method, they could should embrace the chaos. It’s a lot to ask of Caicedo or Lavia, the latter simply 19 years of age, to convey calm to the scenario however each possess a maturity and intelligence past the years, therefore the worth tags: Chelsea might find yourself paying as much as £115m for Caicedo whereas Lavia will price the successful bidder in extra of £50m.

Fernandez thriving within the maelstrom as he did right here would possibly make the eyewatering sum for Caicedo barely extra palatable. He’s presently Britain’s costliest footballer at £105.8m and whereas that payment might by no means be thought of a cut price, it did a minimum of really feel extra commensurate together with his contribution.

In amongst a frantic finale, Salah reacted negatively to his 77th-minute substitution with the sport nonetheless within the stability, an incident which Klopp defined away as a frustration over not turning into the primary participant to succeed in 9 opening weekend objectives within the league’s historical past.

“I can perceive as a result of if Mo scored it will have been a brand new file for objectives scored within the opening sport however I did not take into consideration that. We would have liked stability and we wanted contemporary legs. It was tremendous intense for everyone,” Klopp mentioned.

Each side now have the week to work on taking one other step ahead of their subsequent outing. How the arrival of a brand new midfielder would assist that course of.

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