Chelsea and Liverpool had to settle for a 1-1 draw to start their Premier League season on Sunday as Tottenham also drew 2-2 at Brentford as they began life without Harry Kane.
After a week of battling to land the signing of Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo for a Premier League record transfer fee, both Chelsea and Liverpool’s need for the Ecuadorian was exposed in an explosive encounter.
Liverpool’s bright start was rewarded when Luis Diaz prodded home the opening goal, but debutant Axel Disasi earned Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino a point on his first game in charge.
The American executives of both clubs were in attendance at Stamford Bridge ahead of an intense few days of negotiations after Liverpool had a £110 million offer accepted for Caicedo, only for the player to remain keen on a move to Chelsea instead.
After his defensive midfield options were gutted by the departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia, Jurgen Klopp named an offensive front six with new signings Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai alongside Cody Gakpo in midfield.
Liverpool settled the better and Mohamed Salah was inches away from opening the scoring when he rattled the crossbar on 12 minutes.
Salah was involved when the Reds did take the lead six minutes later with a brilliant cross that Diaz prodded home at the back post.
The Egyptian’s record of scoring on the opening weekend every year of his Liverpool career came to an end, but only due to a VAR review that ruled out a slick finish that would have made it 2-0.
However, the momentum of the game swung after Disasi bundled home Chelsea’s equaliser.
Seconds later Ben Chilwell thought he had turned the game on its head, only for VAR to this time ride to Liverpool’s rescue for offside.
Chances continued to come and go at both ends, but a seventh consecutive clash between the sides ended in a draw.
Life After Harry Kane
Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou said his side had shown there is life after Kane despite failing to get the Australian’s reign off to a winning start.
Spurs settled the better despite a disruptive weekend dominated by the club’s record goalscorer departing for Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Cristian Romero headed Spurs ahead on 11 minutes from James Maddison’s wicked delivery.
Brentford were also without their talismanic number nine as Ivan Toney began an eight-month ban for breaking betting on football rules.
Bryan Mbeumo took over penalty duties in his absence to slot home the equaliser after a VAR review spotted a trip by Son Heung-min on Mathias Jensen inside the box.
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Tottenham’s debutant goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario was beaten again moments later as Yoane Wissa’s shot deflected in off another Spurs new boy Micky van de Ven.
Emerson Royal was the unlikely scorer of Tottenham’s equaliser four minutes into 10 added at the end of the first half when he blasted home a loose ball from outside the box.
Yet, Brentford should still have gone in ahead at the break as Mbeumo somehow turned Rico Henry’s inviting cross over from point-blank range.
Tottenham dominated the second half in terms of possession but struggled to make it count as they already felt the absence of Kane.
But Postecoglou remained positive that Spurs sent their supporters home still with some hope for the season ahead.
“Harry Kane was massive figure for this club for a long time and will continue to be whether he is in the building or not,” said the former Celtic manager.
“We wanted to go out and give our supporters some hope and belief in the team. I thought they did that today.”