Chelsea fought hard to draw with Liverpool in their English Premier League opener

Chelsea came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw against Liverpool in their Premier League opener on Sunday, demonstrating that the Blues have made improvements under new manager Mauricio Pochettino. In the marquee matchup of the Premier League’s opening round, Luis Diaz put Liverpool ahead after a quick counter-attack in the 18th minute, while defender Axel Disasi made his Chelsea debut with a close-range equalizer in the 37th minute of the game.

In an open and chance-filled first half, both teams had goals disallowed by VAR reviews, highlighting why the two rivals are attempting to spend more than £110 million ($140 million) on importing defensive midfielder Moises Caicedo from Brighton. Caicedo is said to have picked Chelsea over Liverpool, which could be more significant than the draw because both teams desperately need a ball-winning midfielder of Caicedo’s caliber.

The Blues, on the other hand, appeared to be a different team under Pochettino, playing with an energy rarely seen at Stamford Bridge last season, when the club cycled through three managers. For much of the game, the hosts dominated possession and held Liverpool at bay, however, new striker Nicolas Jackson struggled to make an impact. His finest chance came in the 71st minute when he surged through on goal, but Alisson Becker saved his attempt.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s new-look midfield of Alexis MacAllister and Dominik Szoboszlai failed to manage the game, indicating that Jurgen Klopp’s club may miss the expertise of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, who both transferred to the Saudi Pro League this summer.

Chelsea always appeared vulnerable to counter-attacks, and Mohamed Salah had already struck the crossbar by the time Liverpool took the lead. Salah raced forward, squared the ball for Diaz to sneak in, and side-foot past new Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez. The 31-year-old Egyptian forward thought he had increased the lead in the 29th minute with a superb goal, but replays revealed he was slightly offside when making his run into the box.

The Blues drew level through an unlikely source. from Liverpool had cleared the ball twice from a corner, Ben Chilwell headed it straight back into the box, where Disasi was left alone to poke the ball past Alisson.

Just minutes later, Chelsea thought they had taken the lead, but Chilwell was clearly offside when he was sent through on goal. Darwin Nunez, a Liverpool replacement, came the closest to a late winner when his long-range drive was deflected barely wide for a corner in injury time. Chelsea had a dangerous-looking counter, but replacement Mykhailo Mudryk couldn’t control the ball after rounding Alisson.