Mykhaylo Mudryk’s sparkle can’t hide how far Chelsea and Liverpool have fallen

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By Sam Wallace

The great Premier League clash of the fallen giants did not produce the statement victory that Jurgen Klopp and Graham Potter sought to reignite their clubs’ seasons, and change for both still feels a long way off.

Both teams were missing so many of their key players and it showed. There were some sights of goal and an early strike for Kai Havertz overruled for offside by Var but this was a flat afternoon played out with a biting Mersey wind making the freezing temperatures ever more raw. Each manager made big selection decisions and then seemed to backtrack on them as his team failed to hit the levels of intensity required.

There was a first sight in English football of the latest Chelsea acquisition, Mykhaylo Mudryk, the £88 million man from Shakhtar Donetsk, who looked sharp enough as a second-half substitute. Indeed he had a good back-post chance from a cross from the right from Hakim Ziyech that the Ukrainian was determined to take on his right foot and so denied himself the simpler angle.

Klopp dropped Trent Alexander-Arnold and then later, as his team began to struggle after a bright start to the second half , used him to replace James Milner. The Liverpool manager gave midfielder Stefan Bajcetic, 18, his first Premier League start and while he too had moments in the first half, by the end it was a job for substitutes Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones to try to win the game.

For Chelsea it was 11 absentees through injury and suspension, once Mateo Kovacic was a late withdrawal. Potter picked much the same team as had beaten Crystal Palace last Sunday – just one change with Marc Cucurella back in the side. Klopp was without three starters in Virgil Van Dijk, Luis Diaz, and Diogo Jota, as well as Roberto Firmino. He started with Cody Gakpo as a central striker and Harvey Elliott high on the left side.

In the later stages Liverpool came strong but before then the away side had created arguably the better chances. It was a day to admire the control of Thiago Silva in defence for Chelsea – but little else.