Chelsea went to Anfield full of confidence and expected a win over Liverpool to maintain their 5 point lead over the rest of the chasing pack, but were found wanting as Fernando Torres struck two well taken goals in the first half, and inflicted the second defeat of the season on the Blues.
Carlo Ancelotti had already announced his probable line-up on Friday, but when the teams were announced at Anfield one name was missing from the Chelsea starting line-up, that was none other than the talismanic Didier Drogba, the striker went down with fever on Saturday so was only fit to be on the bench, with Kalou coming in to replace his fellow Ivorian.
Essien couldn’t recover in time so Ramires started in a midfield three with Mikel and Zhirkov. Liverpool welcomed back Dirk Kuyt from injury, but two former Blues were missing from Roy Hodgson’s side as both Joe Cole and Glen Johnson missed out.
It wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that Liverpool were give a psychological boost when they saw Drogba on the bench and this showed at the beginning of the game. Liverpool started the better by putting Chelsea under pressure and didn’t give any of our player’s time on the ball.
Soon, the Anfield side were rewarded for their effort as Torres got in behind Chelsea’s defence to score the opening goal of the game. Chelsea were behind for the second consecutive away game. Chelsea’s midfield weren’t having one of their best games and clearly missed the energy and creativity of Essien and Lampard.
As the half went to a close, bad fortune struck Chelsea when Ashley Cole slipped near the centre of the field while in possession giving Liverpool a chance to break, as Chelsea’s defence was caught out of position, Torres cut in from the left and produced an immaculate finish which gave Cech no chance, his seventh goal in eight appearances against the Stamford Bridge side.
The Blues finished the first-half with two goals down, a half in which Carlo Ancelotti’s men left a lot to be desired for the supporters. The second-half begin with the introduction the Drogba, with Kalou going off after a display in which he failed to impress. Chelsea knew the magnitude of the task ahead and started with an urgency which had been missing in the first half.
Spurred on by the travelling Blues fans Chelsea mounted the pressure and forced Liverpool on the back foot. First, Ramires headed over and then Malouda forced a brilliant save from Reina as Chelsea finally tested the Spaniard’s goal.
Zhirkov came close for the Blues but his well struck shot was saved at the near post by Reina. He produce another fine save to deny Anelka late on as his shot was deflected on the bar by the Spaniard. Carlo Ancelotti brought on Sturridge and Bosingwa to add an impetus to the Chelsea attack but neither could make the desired impact as Liverpool held on to their lead.
Chelsea produced an improved second-half performance but it wasn’t enough to overcome their lacklustre first 45 minutes. Apart from Cech’s continued impressive showing in goal there wasn’t much to be cheerful about for the Blues fans, they remain two points clear the top but need to improve their performances over the coming weeks if they want to sit pretty at the top, hopefully this will serve as a warning that we can’t rest on our laurels.
Carlo Ancelotti after the game was critical of Chelsea’s slow start to the game but remained positive and praised his side’s second half performance, he said; “In the first half we played too slow and we took a lot of time to build the play from the back and they scored two goals on the counter-attack, but in their half didn’t we couldn’t find space, and didn’t have the opportunity to create.”
“The second half was much better; we played with intensity and personality, had good play and opportunities but it was not enough because Liverpool defensively played well for 90 minutes.”
Chelsea(4-3-3):Cech; Ivanovic (Bosingwa 69), Alex, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires, Mikel, Zhirkov (Sturridge 75); Kalou (Drogba h-t), Anelka, Malouda.