The team that new Chelsea coach Mauricio Pochettino rebuilt over the offseason came back to tie Liverpool 1-1 at home in their Premier League opener on Sunday. Debutant defender Axel Disasi scored an equalizer to cancel out Luis Diaz’s goal.
In a matchup between two of last season’s biggest flops, Diaz nearly ruined Pochettino’s first competitive game in charge of the Blues. In the 18th minute, the Colombian put a foot on a pass from Mohamed Salah that split the defense and put the ball in the net as the guests attacked at lightning speed.
Just over 10 minutes later, Liverpool thought they had made it 2-0, but Salah was offside when he put the ball past goalie Robert Sanchez, who was one of four Chelsea players making their first start.
The home team got through the storm and tied the game in the 37th minute when Liverpool failed to clear a corner kick and France international Disasi, who just joined the team this month from AS Monaco, swept the ball in from close range after a bouncing header from Ben Chilwell.
Two minutes later, Chilwell tried to put the ball in the net by going around goalie Alison Becker, but VAR said he was offside.
After halftime, Chelsea had most of the ball, but they couldn’t score a second goal. In the last few seconds, Liverpool almost won when replacement Darwin Nunez’s shot hit the post and went in.
The Argentine Pochettino, who managed Chelsea’s London foes Tottenham Hotspur from 2014 to 2019 and won Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain in 2022, promised Chelsea fans “an enjoyable style of football” in his program notes on Sunday, and the Stamford Bridge crowd cheered the team off the field.
That was a big change from last season, when the Blues fired their managers Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter and then finished in 12th place, which was their worst Premier League finish since 1994.
As well as Disasi’s goal, Nicolas Jackson, a striker signed from Villarreal, also made his debut and put Liverpool under pressure, though he missed some chances. Academy graduate Levi Colwill, also making his first competitive start for Chelsea, came back from a tough first half to stop Salah.
Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, two new midfielders, also got their first starts for Liverpool for the first time under coach Juergen Klopp.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, the goalie for Chelsea who has been linked to a move to Real Madrid, wasn’t even on the bench.