LONDON, April 5: Chelsea wasted a host of chances to beat Liverpool as the troubled Blues were held to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday in their first Premier League match since Graham Potter’s sacking.
Potter was axed on Sunday after the former Brighton manager’s disastrous reign climaxed with a wretched home defeat against Aston Villa.
Chelsea are seeking their third permanent manager of the campaign, with Potter hired in September following Thomas Tuchel’s shock dismissal.
In the meantime, Bruno Saltor, a member of Potter’s backroom staff, made his managerial debut as Chelsea interim boss.
Bruno managed to coax a lively performance from Chelsea, but — as was so often the case under Potter — they paid the price for a lack of cutting edge.
Chelsea remain 11th, leaving them with an uncertain future despite the massive investment in new signings made by Chelsea owner Todd Boehly since he took over last year.
“These have been emotional days and the players have been able to keep focused. It’s a difficult season for them. To come back from what we have had in the last few days is incredible,” Bruno said.
“I have asked the players to play with their hearts and I think we saw that on the pitch. We create chances and I think we deserved to win.”
Liverpool hardly looked much better as a third successive league game without a win damaged their faint hopes of finishing in the top four.
Eighth-placed Liverpool are seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
“I saw a lot of great challenges, people flying into tackles and that’s what we need,” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said.
“That’s what we have to build on it. If things don’t go your way you have to fight through this and make steps. Sometimes smaller ones, sometimes bigger ones. This was a smaller one.”
In response to Liverpool’s dismal 4-1 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday, Klopp dropped Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold as the Reds boss made six changes.
It was Chelsea who made the stronger start of the two troubled teams and Mateo Kovacic’s shot was blocked on the line by Ibrahima Konate.
Reece James saw his fierce finish disallowed for offside against Enzo Fernandez, while Wesley Fofana was narrowly off target with a headed chance.
Chelsea’s Kai Havertz dragged a good chance wide from N’Golo Kante’s pass.
Darwin Nunez and Joe Gomez forced good saves from Kepa Arrizabalaga as Liverpool finally threatened just before half-time.
Kovacic blazed a glorious chance over soon after the interval, while Havertz’s effort was disallowed for handball when the German’s shot hit Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker and rebounded into the net off his arm.
Leicester’s first game since Brendan Rodgers’ departure on Sunday ended in a 2-1 defeat against Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium.
The Foxes, led by caretaker bosses Mike Stowell and Adam Sadler after Rodgers’ exit by “mutual agreement”, have now gone seven league games without a win and sit second bottom of the table.
Ollie Watkins put Villa ahead in the 24th minute and although Harvey Barnes equalised after 35 minutes, Leicester’s Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was sent off in the 70th minute for a second booking.
Bertrand Traore’s 87th-minute curler, his first goal for Villa since 2021, piled on the misery for Leicester.
Leeds climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win against fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest at Elland Road.
Orel Mangala bagged his first goal in English football to fire Forest ahead.
But Jack Harrison equalised eight minutes later with a close-range finish after Keylor Navas spilled Marc Roca’s shot.
Luis Sinisterra put Leeds in front in first-half stoppage time, cutting inside and curling his shot into the far corner.
Leeds are two points clear of the relegation zone, while Forest are outside the bottom three on goal difference.
Third-bottom Bournemouth remain in deep trouble after a 2-0 home defeat against Brighton.
Albion took the lead in the 28th minute through teenage forward Evan Ferguson’s audacious backheel, with Julio Enciso’s first goal for the club wrapping up the points in injury time. (AFP)