London (AFP) – Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge struck a spectacular late equaliser as two of the Premier League’s top three shared the points in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Saturday.
Both sides remain unbeaten in the league with Liverpool second behind champions Manchester City only on goal difference and Chelsea just two points adrift in third.
Here, AFP Sports looks at three things we learned from an entertainingencounter at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard shows up Salah
Mohamed Salah was named ahead of Eden Hazard as the third best player in the world for the last year by FIFA on Monday to go with his Premier League Player of the Year awards for last season.
But there is no doubt who on current form is the best in the league as Hazard scored his seventh goal of the season, while Salah passed up three good chances before being hooked by Jurgen Klopp 25 minutes from time as Liverpool chased an equaliser.
Replacing the Egyptian would have been unthinkable just a few months ago, but Klopp admitted Salah looked a little short of confidence as after missing two early chances when well-placed on the edge of the area, he tried to pass to Roberto Firmino instead of going for goal at the third time of asking.
By contrast, Hazard is on the top of his game, but Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has challenged the Belgian to match Salah’s achievements of last season and score 40 goals for the first time in his career.
“I think he is able to score 40 goals, so he has to score another 33,” said a smiling Sarri.
Kepa, Alisson prove their worth
The clash also pitted the world’s two most expensive goalkeepers against one another and both Kepa Arrizabalaga and Alisson Becker showed why so many millions were invested in their services.
Alisson’s world record £67 million fee for a goalkeeper lasted barely a couple of weeks before Chelsea splurged £72 million on Kepa.
The Brazilian produced the most telling save with a brilliant block as Hazard bore down on goal just after the hour mark with the chance to double Chelsea’s advantage.
However, minutes earlier Kepa also showed smart reflexes to turn Sadio Mane’s near post drive behind and was faultless for Sturridge’s sensational dipping effort.
Chelsea a contender
Sarri has insisted all season his side will lag behind City and Liverpool in their third full campaigns under Pep Guardiola and Klopp as Chelsea adjust to the Italian’s style.
However, even the former Napoli boss admitted Chelsea are “closer” than he believed after facing Liverpool twice in four days and being seconds away from two victories.
Sarri has yet to taste defeat in nine competitive games in charge and Chelsea could go top for a few hours next Sunday when they travel to Southampton, before City and Liverpool face off at Anfield.
While Hazard and a midfield three of Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic have shone in the early weeks of the season, defensive doubts remained.
However, David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger made fine clearances off their own line and were on the verge of keeping Liverpool scoreless for the first time since they last visited Chelsea back in May.
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