Chelsea were held to yet another 0-0 draw by Liverpool on Tuesday in their first match since sacking coach Graham Potter with both sides displaying the same problems that have left them miles off the pace in this season’s Premier League.
The goalless stalemate was the fourth in a row between the two teams – including last season’s FA and League Cup finals both of which Liverpool won on penalties.
Big-spending Chelsea dominated much of the Stamford Bridge encounter against a much-changed Liverpool side, who seemed visibly low on confidence following their chastening 4-1 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday.
Yet Chelsea spurned one opportunity after another, repeating the kind of toothless display that ended up costing Potter his job at Stamford Bridge after only 31 games in charge.
Joao Felix and Mateo Kovacic went close in the opening minutes followed by chances that went untaken by Kai Havertz in another toothless display for the Blues, who have scored only 29 times in 29 league games.
Reece James, restored to his more dangerous role as a marauding right wing-back by Chelsea’s interim head coach Bruno Saltor, and Havertz had the ball in the net either side of halftime, but both efforts were ruled out.
Liverpool sought to make Chelsea pay for their profligacy at the end of the first half with their first moments of danger, including a rasping shot by Fabinho that Blues defender Wesley Fofana deflected wide with a glanced header. Felix and Kovacic wasted further chances for Chelsea in the second half.
The draw left Liverpool in eighth place in the league table, seven points behind Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth Champions League qualifying spot having played a game less than Spurs. Chelsea stayed stuck in 11th place.
Chelsea fans were at least able to see midfielder N’Golo Kante making his first start for the Blues since suffering a hamstring injury in August. They will hope he can build on his display when Chelsea meet Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals next week.
The appearance represented Kante’s third league home game under three different coaches in the same season, having begun the campaign under Thomas Tuchel and played as a substitute on Saturday against Aston Villa in Potter’s swansong.
The French World Cup winner was given a standing ovation when he was substituted in the 69th minute.
Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp, possibly with an eye on Sunday’s visit to Anfield by league leaders Arsenal, left several of his usual starters on the bench including Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
“Both teams played last year in two finals, two of the best 0-0s I ever saw,” Klopp told the BBC. “Today it was two teams low on confidence but really fighting. We’re fine with a point, a lot of good stuff. We showed a lot of fight. We have to keep going.”