Chelsea moved nine points clear at the top of the Premier League with a hard fought draw against Liverpool on Tuesday night.
The visitors opened the scoring through an opportunistic David Luiz free kick, before Georginio Wijnaldum’s second half header levelled the scores.
Neither side could find a winner in what was a combative second half, although Chelsea would have been the happier side with a point after both Arsenal and Spurs failed to win.
After a rousing rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, it was the hosts that started in the ascendancy, dominating possession and controlling the pace of the game.
Chelsea remained disciplined and compact, and, other than a long-range Wijnaldum shot which forced a save from Thibaut Courtois, were largely untroubled.
But, completely out of the blue, Luiz hit a stunning, speculative free kick past an unprepared Simon Mignolet and in off the post after 25 minutes to put Chelsea in front, with almost everyone at Anfield taken by surprise.
It was the league leaders’ first notable effort of the game, but they had doggedly executed Antonio Conte’s conservative gameplan to restrict Liverpool and asserted themselves on the game after the goal.
The home side’s attempts to quickly respond and find an equaliser before the break proved futile, with Chelsea looking increasingly comfortable against a fairly toothless Liverpool attack.
Liverpool should have found themselves level shortly after half time, though, the ball falling to Roberto Firmino in space in the box, but the Brazilian forward miss-hit his shot wildly over the bar.
The intensity of the game was upped in the second half, as was the home side’s urgency after what had been a relatively pedestrian opening 45 minutes.
And just before the hour mark, Chelsea’s seemingly impenetrable defence was beaten, Wijnaldum heading low past Courtois from close range having been picked out by James Milner to bring the scores level.
Wijnaldum’s equaliser brought with it a notable change in impetus, and it was Liverpool that seemed to be the side actively searching for a winner.
It appeared that Chelsea would once again strike against the run of play when Diego Costa was awarded a penalty after what Mark Clattenburg deemed to be a foul by Joel Matip, but the Spaniard saw his resultant spot kick well saved by Mignolet.
The visitors seemed content to settle for a point as the game entered its latter stages, while Liverpool appeared to have somewhat dropped in energy levels.
With the game in the balance, Pedro came within inches of scoring a late winner but swept his left footed effort just wide of the far post.
At the other end, it was Firmino that could have won it for Liverpool with what was the last chance of the game, but directed his header straight at Courtois from six yards out.
Chelsea moved nine points clear at the top with the draw, while Liverpool remained in fourth place, ten points off top.
Chelsea team tonight: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Willian, Diego Costa, Hazard. #LIVCHE
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 31, 2017