Chelsea's stubborn defence is what makes them title contenders

29 August 2021 02:00

Chelsea's trip to Anfield was all going so well for around 44 minutes.

The Blues were 1-0 up through a looping Kai Havertz header and could have even added a second before.the incident.

In a desperate goal-line scramble, right-back Reece James was harshly given his marching orders by referee Anthony Taylor, who used VAR to look at a snapshot of the incident and decided he'd seen enough to turn the game on its head and send James for an early bath.

Mohamed Salah equalised from the spot just before the interval, and from that point on, it looked like Chelsea were in for a rough ride. They had Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota bearing down on their vulnerable goal for a full 45 minutes, and they were absolutely peppered.

Most teams on the planet would have crumbled under that pressure, but Chelsea didn't. Thomas Tuchel's men were in inspired form defensively and held on for a well-deserved point, showcasing the kind of outstanding discipline needed from potential Premier League champions.

When he first joined the club, Tuchel said (via Sky Sports) that he wanted to build 'a team nobody wants to play against'. His focus was on building a defence that was stubborn and tough to beat, and we saw just how well he has accomplished that target against Liverpool.

With one man fewer, Chelsea would have been forgiven for buckling against one of Europe's deadliest forward lines, especially when you consider that this is a similar squad to the one that would regularly ship goals under former boss Frank Lampard. Defending was never their strong suit, but under Tuchel, it is.

Andreas Christensen has turned into an utter monster, Antonio Rudiger looks like one of the scariest defenders on the planet and even Marcos Alonso is pulling his weight. They just refuse to be beaten, even when the odds are against them.

It was an elite performance, but it was by no means a one-off. Under Tuchel, we've seen Chelsea neutralise Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, while Manchester City have scored just once in three meetings with the rejuvenated Blues. This is just what they do.

You can't help but compare this performance to the 5-2 defeat to West Brom back in April. The Blues saw Thiago Silva sent off early on in that game and absolutely capitulated, shipping goal after goal after goal to one of the poorest sides in the division.

If West Brom could do that to ten-man Chelsea, one would have assumed that Liverpool would have been aiming to hit double-figures, but Tuchel's men were having none of it.

Instead, Chelsea defended for their lives. They believed they could beat Liverpool and were determined to prove it, and after an outstanding 45 minutes, they have done exactly that.

Tuchel has Chelsea well-drilled | Michael Regan/Getty Images

It's that stubbornness at the back that makes Chelsea genuine contenders for the title. That's what led them to Champions League glory - a feat made more impressive when you remember they could barely even score goals last year.

With Romelu Lukaku up top and this outstanding defence keeping things steady at the back, there won't be many teams that can stop Chelsea this year.

Source: 90min