DANNY MURPHY: Harvey Elliott shone in a real thriller which showed Chelsea and Liverpool are title contenders… and Antonio Rudiger is a leader that EVERY team would want
- Liverpool and Chelsea played out a thrilling game at Anfield with high quality
- Teenager Harvey Elliott was trusted by Jurgen Klopp and delivered in midfield
- Antonio Rudiger showed that he is a true leader at the heart of a defence
We know for sure both Liverpool and Chelsea will be there or thereabouts for the title this season.
Manchester City beat Arsenal by five and Manchester United are seeing the return of Ronaldo, but they know it’ll be a battle at the top because the quality of the football at Anfield last night was phenomenal, particularly in the first half.
The way Liverpool played through the lines showed they are on the way back and more like the champions of two seasons ago.
Chelsea fought valiantly at Anfield while Liverpool showed signs of getting back to their best
It was a brilliant watch and very unfortunate that the red card for Reece James turned it more into attack versus defence in the second half.
I felt sorry for James though I can see why the referee sent him off. It was an unusual situation where the ball hit his arm inadvertently, causing him to then swot the ball away to prevent a goal.
Before then, manager Thomas Tuchel showed his tactical acumen. Kai Havertz and Mason Mount caused Liverpool problems with the way they found space either side of Romelu Lukaku.
Kai Havertz filled a valuable tactical role for Tuchel and got Chelsea in front on Merseyside
They stayed narrow so the full-backs didn’t know whether to pick them up and Fabinho wasn’t sure if he had to drop back.
When Jordan Henderson and Harvey Elliott pressed, Mount and Havertz found room that troubled Fabinho. It was intelligent play.
I think in the cold light of day neither side should be disappointed with a point. They both remain unbeaten and it will take an extremely good team to defeat either of them. Chelsea are a fit and well-organised group.
Elliot takes his chance
I was shocked Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp picked Harvey Elliott because I didn’t think things quite came off for him against Burnley last week.
To start an 18-year-old ahead of Naby Keita, Thiago Alcantara and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for a game of this magnitude this was a big call. The fact he stayed on for 90 minutes showed it worked.
Harvey Elliott was trusted by Jurgen Klopp and delivered on the big stage for his manager
I think Klopp selected him because of his courage to keep demanding the ball in dangerous areas. He can do that because his touch is immaculate and for a relatively small player, he was able to get after people and be combative.
It’s that lack of fear young players have that really helps. They play freely, don’t worry about the repercussions and it was a really terrific performance. And his decision-making was good — if a simple pass was needed, that is what he did.
Klopp will be delighted at how he coped in the cauldron. This was a proper match between two brilliant football teams and Elliott showed he belonged.
Rudiger is the ruler
It’s never easy for a defence to hold out against an extra man, even in training, so Chelsea’s second half performance was textbook to leave Anfield with a point.
The midfield pair of Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho were good, Andreas Christensen is improving all the time and Thiago Silva has won it all.
But the player who stood out most was Antonio Rudiger who is one of those leaders with authority every successful team needs.
Antonio Rudiger was involved at every turn for Chelsea and helped his side leave with a point
Rudiger rarely has a bad game, puts himself about and communicates with his team-mates all the time. And importantly he’s first in to back his pals when it kicks off. They know they can rely on him.
I don’t know why he wasn’t used more often by Frank Lampard, it can happen between a manager and player, but it didn’t surprise me one of the first changes Tuchel made was to bring him back in. The system with three at the back helps him as well because he has more cover.
He’s what I call a proper defender, like Giorgio Chiellini. Other defenders like John Stones enjoy spraying the ball out. Rudiger can pass it but I don’t think he’s bothered. He prefers the rough and ready stuff.
I know from my own career every team likes a couple of warriors who will fight your corner.
When Edouard Mendy and Henderson clashed after the penalty, of course Rudiger was involved. Jamie Carragher used to do that at Liverpool. It’s an important part of being in a team.
The German loves the rough and tumble and is always involved when tempers boil over