Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Liverpool in a full-throttle encounter at rain-swept Anfield. David Luiz blasted home a free kick midway through the first half to give the visitors the lead against the run of play, and the equaliser came via a close-range Georginio Wijnaldum header on 57 minutes. When Joel Matip brought down Diego Costa to concede a penalty with just 15 minutes left, the game looked set to go Chelsea’s way, but Costa’s spot kick was soft and easily saved by Simon Mignolet.
A night of mixed fortunes for Chelsea, who despite seeing Costa spurn the perfect chance to win the game, remained resolute and still managed to conclude the night increasing their advantage at the top of the table by a point as second-placed Arsenal contrived to lose at home to Watford. The West London club appear to be blessed with good luck this season and such a positive cannot be underestimated as they bid to win the title.
Eden Hazard’s form has waned in the past few games and the Belgium international again looked off the pace for much of the contest before Antonio Conte replaced him with Pedro for the final phase of the game. Costa’s penalty miss was a big disappointment. Whether the two points dropped as a result will prove significant remains to be seen.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Once again Conte cut a dynamic, passionate figure on the touchline. Winning means everything to the Italian. If he could have taken the penalty Costa squandered, he would have done — and scored. The management of Pedro’s game time, namely fielding him against Brentford in the FA Cup and benching him for Tuesday’s match, was perhaps the wrong strategy, but overall it would be harsh to criticise Conte.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 8 — Made an excellent save from Wijnaldum early on with the score at 0-0 but was unable to prevent the Netherlands international from heading home a close-range equaliser. Always looked comfortable on set pieces and stayed focused to the end when well placed to to catch a late Roberto Firmino header.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 — Spent much of the game left to cover for Victor Moses’ ineffectiveness in defence and showed great stamina in tracking back to help out Gary Cahill and Luiz in the centre.
DF David Luiz, 8 — Took full advantage of Mignolet being unprepared for a free kick that Willian was sizing up by striding past his teammate and blasting the ball home from 25 yards. Worked tirelessly in defence and played through the pain barrier for second half having received treatment to his leg 10 minutes before the break.
DF Gary Cahill, 6 — Stuck doggedly to the task of keeping tabs on Adam Lallana and Firmino, though perhaps fortunate that the Brazil international failed to take clear-cut chances that came his way when getting the better of him. Arguably culpable of failing to marshal Chelsea’s backline adequately in the build-up and execution of Liverpool’s equaliser.
WB Victor Moses, 6 — Caused Liverpool plenty of problems going forward linking up well with Costa. Struck the post with a fine shot but was arguably too attack-minded and lacked defensive focus, which was exploited by the home side for their goal.
WB Marcos Alonso, 6 — Saw little of the ball for much of the game and, when in possession, was pressed back by Nathaniel Clyne, who also proved a handful for the Spaniard when going forward.
MF Nemanja Matic, 6 — A patchy performance. Made some decent blocking tackles but not for the first time this season left Kante to do the lion’s share of the midfield grunt work, particularly in the first half.
MF N’Golo Kante, 8 — Another indefatigable performance from the France international, who covered every blade of grass ensuring Chelsea were not overrun in midfield.
FW Willian, 6 — Afforded a start ahead of Pedro, Willian failed to make a telling impression on the game, although he did draw Liverpool’s defenders wide with runs off the ball. Tired late on and was replaced by Cesc Fabregas.
FW Eden Hazard, 6 — Another patchy game. Hazard occasionally looked dangerous on the counter-attack and did win the free kick that Luiz rifled home, but his overall contribution was disappointing enough for Conte to withdraw him early.
FW Diego Costa, 6 — Held the ball well up front and was lively enough to keep Liverpool’s nervy defence fully occupied throughout the game. Having got the better of Joel Matip when drawing a foul in the Reds’ penalty area, Costa had the opportunity to seal victory but his tame spot kick was kept out by Mignolet.
FW Pedro, NR — Replaced Hazard and was immediately involved in the game, though might have done better when in possession.
MF Cesc Fabregas, NR — Provided a much needed fresh pair of legs when replacing Willian and helped Kante shore up Chelsea’s midfield.
FW Michy Batshuayi, NR — Replaced Costa in stoppage time.
Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC’s Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco