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Premier League: Liverpool and Chelsea disappoint again

Liverpool and Chelsea's slim hopes of making the top four in the Premier League took a hit on Saturday following a dour 0-0 draw between the sides at Anfield.

The Reds are now 2/1 to achieve a top-four finish in the Premier League this season while Graham Potter's men are 9/1 to make the Champions League places.

Neither side offered much going forwards

Both of these clubs have been occupying mid-table positions in the Premier League for much of the season and it was easy to see why on Saturday.

Against the backdrop of a subdued atmosphere, both teams struggled to carve out clear-cut chances after Kai Havertz had seen an early strike ruled out for offside by VAR.

January addition Cody Gakpo forced one stop from Kepa in the Chelsea goal but it was generally a stale affair which produced only five shots on targets from the two teams.

In fairness to the hosts, their attacking composition has not had a familiar look to it for a while with Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino all unavailable and it was perhaps asking a lot for World Cup star Gakpo to slot into the middle of the front three and make an impact in a game of this magnitude.

Chelsea, meanwhile, opted to start with Havertz through the middle and, beyond finding the net with a disallowed goal in the opening minutes, the German was pretty ineffective, as was substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The travelling fans did at least get to see a glimpse of their new £89million man Mykhailo Mudryk, signed from Shakhtar Donetsk this month, and the 22-year-old looked lively when coming off the bench in the second half, even managing a shot from inside the box after some trickery on the ball.

Chelsea the happier of the two sides

The pressure has been mounting on Chelsea boss Graham Potter since he was appointed in September but the former Brighton man did not have too many complaints about the outcome of this match.

Chelsea had chances to win the game and may rue not making the most of playing against a Liverpool defence missing Virgil van Dijk but a point at Anfield is hardly a terrible result, even in the current climate and especially given Potter has had to consistently bed-in new signings.

The 0-0 draw means Chelsea have now kept successive clean sheets in the Premier League and their next three league matches are at home to Fulham, away to West Ham and at home to Southampton, so there is the opportunity for points on the horizon.

Speaking after the game, Potter said: "Happy with the team, the energy, what we tried to do. At Anfield, it is always tough. It is a clean sheet and a point, we move forward.

"Overall, a positive day, apart from the fact we wanted three points."

Chelsea are still nine places off the Champions League places and, while that is not an insurmountable gap to close, they are 1/16 to finish outside the top four and the more realistic target for the London club has to be a top-six finish.

The performances of Mudryk up top and fellow January addition Benoit Badiashile at the back should inspire some confidence and this result may suggest all is not lost for Chelsea, who are 4/7 to beat their next league opponents Fulham.

Liverpool need key personnel to return

This draw was arguably more damaging for Liverpool but they are marginally the more likely to qualify for the Champions League of the two with the Reds 4/11 to miss out on the top four.

They are the same number of points adrift of the Champions League places but have a game in hand.

Their managerial situation is unlikely to change any time soon given the credit Jurgen Klopp has built up during his Anfield tenure, while a spending spree also looks out of the question.

Instead, Liverpool will be desperate to simply get their biggest hitters back and firing from Jota to van Dijk.

They will also be hoping for more from Gakpo, who has started each of the club's last four matches but is yet to get on the scoresheet.

The atmosphere was muted at the final whistle on Saturday and it is fair to say Liverpool are going through a transitional period as they look to incorporate new signings and find a way of dealing with key absentees.

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