Chelsea ratings vs Liverpool: Petrovic the only shining light, midfield is nonexistent

Chelsea had just managed a draw against Aston Villa in the fourth round of the FA Cup, and many fans hoped the Blues would play better against the league leaders. The reality was grim. Liverpool can point to games against relegation-threatened sides that were harder. Everything went wrong at Anfield, and the game ended with the Blues lucky to be leaving with just a 4-1 loss.
Liverpool FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League
Liverpool FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Chelsea traveled to Anfield to face Liverpool for the second time this season. The reverse fixture ended in a draw, a draw that instilled many fans with false hope. No one should have expected the Blues to be any kind of coherent in this game, especially based on what Mauricio Pochettino has shown this season, but still, fans hoped. The west London club has now conceded four goals for the second time (first vs Manchester City) in the league this season, and 28 shots also for the second time (first vs Manchester United) this season. Here is how the players fared individually:

Dorde Petrovic: 9/10

Petrovic gets a nine because he was the only one that performed well. His numbers in the game reveal that the defensive collapse of the team was indeed structural. He made nine saves and prevented -0.33 goal(s). This means that Chelsea conceded the same amount of goals they were supposed to, despite Petrovic's heroics. Based on the shots on target Liverpool players took, Petrovic should have conceded 3.67 goals. 3.67 expected goals based on shots on target (xGOT) shows that the Blues were not interested in defending on the night.

Axel Disasi: 6/10

Disasi was one of four defenders that were hung out to dry on the day. Many fans have tried to lay the blame at the feet of several Chelsea defenders this season, but the reality is that no combination of defenders has looked defensively solid enough. This speaks to an issue above them. Disasi won most of his duels on the night, but the Blues were under constant pressure, and no team has ever been under constant pressure because of the defense. The pressure meant Pochettino's men conceded many goals anyway, regardless of how the defense performed.

Thiago Silva: 6/10

Silva was not great. He lost the only ground duel and the tackle he contested in 90 minutes. His passing was good, but it always is, and the 39-year-old simply cannot get around the pitch the way he used to. He also gets a six because not much that happened in this game was really his fault.

Benoit Badiashile: 6/10

While Badiashile performed better than the other defenders, he did concede a penalty, so still deserves the same rating as them. The discourse around the former AS Monaco centerback has been interesting. Badiashile's first three games in a Chelsea shirt resulted in three consecutive clean sheets. All the things he was doing right then, are things he's still doing right. His ability to pass the ball through tight spaces and his composure on the ball has remained. Against Liverpool, the Frenchman did a lot of things right, but the midfield was unable to retain any kind of possession of the ball. This meant that the ball kept coming back and Badiashile was either always defending a Liverpool attack, or he was defending a Liverpool counterattack. All. Night. Long. Badiashile won 4/7 duels and made 16 defensive actions. The Frenchman won three aerial duels by himself, and the rest of the Chelsea squad combined for six.

Ben Chilwell: 5/10

Chilwell did have a poor first half, but even he just came back from injury not long ago, and like Badiashile, was thrown into the fire of tactical confusion. His substitution at halftime paints a worse picture of the performance he had.

Moises Caicedo: 3/10

The midfield is more to blame for the shower of horse manure that was that Chelsea performance. Caicedo was not getting involved in many duels, as he only attempted six. This already shows part of the issue, because a centerback on the same team attempted seven duels. Chelsea was under so much pressure, that a midfielder attempting only six duels in 66 minutes is alarming. This is not all. Caicedo attempted just one tackle, a tackle he missed. All. Game. This is why the ball kept coming back to the defense and the Blues kept conceding goals. Even when the defenders dealt with the danger and tried to progress play, the ball was lost in the midfield.

Enzo Fernandez: 3/10

Fernandez was all sorts of atrocious, not least because his passing was careless, as usual. He attempted many ground duels, to his credit, but winning so few of them still meant the midfield was ineffective. His carelessness is best highlighted by the fact that he lost possession of the ball 22 times, but created zero chances. 22 would be how many possession losses you can expect from a creative player who tried many things in a game. Enzo tried nothing, even attempting zero crosses.

Conor Gallagher: 5/10

Gallagher was not having the worst game when he was taken off. He was more uninvolved than bad in the game against Liverpool.

Noni Madueke: 3/10

Madueke's dribbling is usually very good but because he offers little else, when the dribbling is not coming off, it usually promises an abysmal performance of the highest proportions. This game was one such case. The youngster completed 1/3 dribbles and won 1/7 defensive duels. He was also put out of his misery at halftime.

Raheem Sterling: 3/10

Sterling was more useful to the Blues out of possession than he was in possession, which does not look good for a forward who is the highest earner at a club like Chelsea. Sterling's dribbling was horrendous, and he got bullied by Conor Bradley. Well and truly bullied.

Cole Palmer: 6/10

Palmer was very good in and out of possession. His dribbling was good and he also won 3/4 defensive duels on the night. His passing was great too, completing 90% of them. Perhaps Palmer should not have been the one leading the line at Anfield.

Christopher Nkunku (45'): 7/10

Nkunku deserves credit if for nothing else but his superb finish to give Chelsea some hope. His passing was good, but it's a bad sign that the only people on the team that had good passing numbers in this game are forwards, or played as forwards. The Blues needed to complete passes in the midfield to establish some control, doing that in the final third is of little use.

Mykhailo Mudryk (45'): 6/10

Mudryk was much better in this game. He did miss that big chance that Chelsea got from a counterattack early on in the second half, but his dribbling was better and his passing was improved.

Malo Gusto (45'): 7/10

Chelsea's only big chance of the game was created by a second-half substitute. Gusto was very good defensively too, winning 3/3 tackles. He won an impressive 5/7 duels and won two crucial fouls to take some pressure off his team.

Carney Chukwuemeka (66'): 5/10

Chukwuemeka did nothing on the pitch, despite providing Chelsea's only assist of the game.

Cesare Casadei (85'): N/A

It was an important debut for the youngster who returned from loan this January.

Mauricio Pochettino: 0/10

From the poor structure of the team to his attempts at gaslighting fans in the post-match presser, the Argentine manager deserves all the criticism coming his way, then some. This is the second time in the season Chelsea is coming up against an opponent that completely blows them out of the water while rendering them nearly unable to hurt said opponent. This is also the second time this season his men have allowed 28 shots in a league game. The west London side has conceded 35 goals in 22 games this season, and that number should be higher. Last night was no fluke, it's a pattern. Pochettino is responsible for how the team is set up when they don't have the ball. Fans need to stop giving him credit for "getting the attackers firing" and start criticizing him for the Blues' defensive vulnerabilities.