LONDON (AP) — Mauricio Pochettino’s return to the Premier League didn’t start with a win, but there was plenty to like for the Argentine manager in his first game in charge of Chelsea.
Pochettino saw his team dominate possession in a manner that few teams have done against Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp, although the Blues lacked the firepower up front to come away with more than a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
“After four years (away from the Premier League), it is a fantastic way to start the season. I enjoyed the match a lot,” said Pochettino, who spent one year away from management after being fired by Paris Saint-Germain. ”I think we deserved a little bit more overall. We feel pleased, but at the same time disappointed because we wanted to win and we deserved to win, but it is only the beginning.”
Ange Postecoglou, the new manager at Pochettino’s former club Tottenham, also had to settle for a draw in his first game but came away with reason to believe that his team can be just fine without Harry Kane. Spurs also had plenty of possession but had to come from behind to draw 2-2 at Brentford in the day’s early kickoff.
Most of the attention was on Stamford Bridge, though, for the marquee matchup of the Premier League’s opening round.
The buildup to the game had the added talking point of both teams trying to sign Brighton’s Moises Caicedo for an English record fee of more than 110 million pounds ($140 million).
Chelsea looks to have won that contest and, if there was any doubt why both clubs think a ball-winning defensive midfielder is worth that kind of money, Sunday’s game made it quite evident that they both lack exactly that kind of player.
The first half, especially, was filled with chances at both ends and could easily have seen a bigger scoreline.
After Liverpool bossed the opening 15 minutes and took the lead through Luis Diaz, Chelsea gradually took control of the game and leveled through new signing Axel Disasi.
Both teams also had a goal disallowed for offside following VAR checks in the first half.
“The start was pretty convincing, we scored two wonderful goals, one was disallowed for an offside,” Klopp said. “We opened up the door for Chelsea, we lost the ball in moments where it was difficult to prepare for it. … From my point of view it looked like we helped Chelsea get back in the game.”
SPURS MOVING ON
It’s hardly an ideal situation for a new manager when the club loses its record scorer the day before the season opener. But Postecoglou is trying to make sure Tottenham doesn’t linger on the past.
“Football clubs move on pretty quickly,” Postecoglou said about coping without Kane after an entertaining draw at Brentford. “I haven’t needed to give (the players) a warm fuzzy cuddle just to see how they are. We had a game to prepare for and they knew that.”
This was a new-look Tottenham, not just because of the absence of Kane. Spurs will clearly be a very different team under the Australian manager than they were last season under the defensive-minded Antonio Conte.
All four goals came in an action-filled first half that saw Tottenham dominate possession and take an early lead, only to fall 2-1 behind and then score an equalizer just before the break.
James Maddison had two assists in his first game for Tottenham, delivering a free kick that Cristian Romero headed in for the opening goal and then teeing Emerson Royal up for the equalizer.
Bryan Mbeumo converted a penalty to make it 1-1 and Yoane Wissa gave the hosts the lead with a shot that took a deflection to sneak past Tottenham’s new goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.
ANOTHER GAME DELAY
There was another delayed kickoff on Sunday, this time because the toilets weren’t working properly at Brentford’s Gtech Community Stadium.
A water supply issue meant the kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) was pushed back by six minutes.
That came a day after Arsenal’s home game against Nottingham Forest was delayed by 30 minutes because of an issue with the club’s new digital ticketing system.
“It is the most crazy reason for delaying a Premier League game I ever heard,” Brentford manager Thomas Frank said. “Probably also the first time in the Premier League wasn’t it? Again, making history.” ___
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