Lack of a clear midfield plan was evident in the match between Chelsea and Liverpool. Both teams attacked relentlessly, reaching the final third with potential danger. While neither team lost the season opener, the important battle of securing the right holding player for stability remains to be won. Chelsea and Liverpool have their eyes on the same two players, Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, but it is uncertain who wants whom more. Both players could significantly alter the outcome of the match if they were in the lineups, providing a different challenge for the opponents.
In terms of individual performances, Conor Gallagher and Alexis Mac Allister did not give terrible displays. They were aggressive, combative, and made important tackles in crucial areas. However, they lack the instinctual defensive abilities and positional sense of true defensive midfielders. Both players would be better suited playing in other positions.
Brighton’s hierarchy surely watched the game with satisfaction as they witnessed the vulnerability of Chelsea and Liverpool’s midfield on the counter-attack. This would likely increase the price tag for Caicedo and validate Southampton’s valuation for Lavia. Gallagher’s start at the base of midfield had implications for Chelsea’s transfer plans, as he has been subject to a £40m transfer interest. Enzo Fernandez benefited from Gallagher’s position switch as he played higher upfield and performed impressively.
At 23 years old, questions remain about Gallagher’s ability to secure a regular starting role at Chelsea. While he demonstrated the desire and intent to do so, his constant recovery tackles were often a consequence of being out of position initially.
On the other hand, Mac Allister began his tenure as Liverpool’s newest No. 10, a role previously held by Georginio Wijnaldum. Due to the midfield’s imbalance and restructure, Liverpool needed their holding players to provide substantial support. Mac Allister, like Gallagher, fulfilled his defensive duties and showcased distribution skills. However, he is still adapting to a new team and system, while Gallagher is adjusting to a new managerial approach.
Both Chelsea and Liverpool displayed their attacking prowess but also revealed vulnerabilities in their midfield. Through-balls, dribbles, and runners easily penetrated their defenses. A draw on the road is satisfactory for Liverpool, and a draw from behind is not disastrous for Chelsea. However, the nature of the game and its uncertainty until the final minute perfectly suited Brighton’s interests.