Hazard’s strange cameo role

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It looked like we’d stepped back in time at the start of Chelsea’s hard-fought, and ultimately frustrating, clash with Liverpool on Sunday September 22 at the Bridge when the wrong giant banner was wheeled out to be manhandled across the Matthew Harding lower tier ahead of kick-off.

It saluted Eden Hazard – the player whose departure led to such hand-wringing and angst in close season, but whose departure is now summed up by a polite shrug as he struggles to settle in Spain.

‘What the flipping heck is that?’ chorused the Scousers at the Shed End as the baffling banner made its journey across the heads of the spectators below.

The match itself hinged (almost inevitably) on VAR. To the Reds’ delight what at first looked like a perfectly good equaliser from captain Cesar Azpilicueta was ruled out for an obscure offside some time earlier.

Then, as the Blues’ reeled in deflation at the news that Trent Alexander-Arnold’s superb 15th minute opening free kick hadn’t, in fact, been nullified, Liverpool took advantage of the sense of despair and scored a second via a Fabinho header from a second set-piece.

So a match which had appeared to be heading for 1-1 at the break suddenly became 0-2.

Despite a dazzling solo goal from the returning N’Golo Kante, Chelsea’s pressure couldn’t gain the all-important equaliser, and 1-2 it was at ref Michael Oliver’s final whistle.

Six players were booked – three from each side – with Liverpool being repeated warned for time-wasting in the second half.