After all the hysteria during the week and the craziness of Saturday, it was time for the big showdown between Chelsea and Liverpool in a match which was built up as showdown between Fernando Torres and his former team, but turned out to be a rather drab affair in which Liverpool came out as winners.
Carlo Ancelotti gave debut to his new record signing, Fernando Torres, who replaced Salomon Kalou as the only change from the Sunderland game, as the Italian persisted with the diamond formation which worked so well during the week. However, Chelsea’s other new signing, David Luiz, could only start on the bench.
Liverpool started with three centerback’s just as they did against Stoke in midweek, an early indication of what was to come, as they looked to sit deep and hit us on the counter-attack. Luiz Suarez was only on the bench as Dirk Kuyt started in the lone striker role.
John Obi Mikel was booked in the first minute of the game for a foul on Steven Gerrad and it looked like a harsh booking, plus the fact that it was just the beginning made it an even worse decision from the Referee, Andre Marriner.
Chelsea started the game well and as expected looked like only team that wanted to attack given Liverpool’s formation. Liverpool sat deep and tried to close down Chelsea players as much as possible.
Chelsea fans had hoped that Fernando Torres would be a factor in this game after his much celebrated move and he had the chance to repay the faith early on after Maxi played him in with a loose backpass, but his shot went high and wide into the Shed End.
Nicolas Anelka had a great game against Sunderland in the trequartista position behind the two strikers, but Liverpool gave him no space at all as Lucas followed him up and down, making it difficult for him and Chelsea to orchestrate things against this rigid Liverpool defence.
Chelsea dominated the possession, but couldn’t create any clear cut chances as Liverpool’s defence stood strong with Fernando Torres going the closest for the Blues. Didier Drogba won the ball in the middle of the park and played in Torres behind the Liverpool defence, but Jamie Carragher was up to the task as he tracked the Spaniard all the way and made the block to deny Torres a debut goal.
Despite having less of the possession, it was the team from Merseyside that had the best chance of the half. Steven Gerrard crossed in from the left and found out Maxi at the far side, but the Argentine somehow managed to hit it on to the bar from a few yards out with the goal at his mercy.
Aside from a few headers from the corner for Ivanovic, the first half ended without any more chances for either side, making it a dull first half, but leaving a lot to ponder for Carlo Ancelotti at the break.
The second half started on a similar note as the first; Chelsea dominating the possession but lacking the cutting edge to take advantage of it.
With things not going our way, Carlo Ancelotti decided to change things around, and brought on Salomon Kalou in place of Fernando Torres, who didn’t have the best of the afternoon and was reminded what he was missing by joining Chelsea by having things thrown at him in the first half.
Despite having less of the ball for the whole game, it was Liverpool who took the lead to shock Stamford Bridge. Steven Gerrard crossed the ball in from the right hand side, but there was miscommunication between Ivanovic and Cech allowing the ball goes across the goal and being pounced on by Meireles.
Chelsea upped the tempo after going behind, but again failed to test Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. As the Blues tried to move forward in search of an equaliser, they left spaces behind and could have conceded another goal late on from Fabio Aurelio, but Cech was at hand to deny him.
For all their lack of attacking penetration, Chelsea could have still got the equaliser late on, had it not been for Andre Marriner, who overlooked the push on Ivanovic by Glen Johnson and denied us a penalty just like hid when he waived on after a Lucas handball earlier on.
After Manchester United’s slip up yesterday, this was an opportunity missed for the Blues today, as we failed to reduce the gap to seven points, leaving our title defence in tatters. This defeat also brought to end the mini revival that we had in the past few games and showed that problems still persist within the team.
Still, there are positive to be taken from this game. David Luiz looked confident and composed in his short display and Fernando Torres will only improve with time, but the performance of Michael Essien and Didier Drogba remain a cause of concern.
Still, Liverpool deserve credit for their performance, they came out with a plan and executed it well. Their tactics were spot on, but in a way they were helped by the fact that Carlo gave away his hand by playing the diamond formation against Sunderland which allowed Liverpool to prepare for it.
Carlo Ancelotti was dejected and disappointed with Chelsea’s performance, he said; “I wanted to change the system. It was the first game for him [Torres] and for the first 65 minutes he did his best.
“It wasn’t easy because it was difficult to find space. We played from the back too slowly so there was no possibility for our strikers to play with speed.
“It was the same system that did very well against Sunderland. The problem was that Liverpool defended very well. They changed tactics, they played with three defenders, and we weren’t able to find space.”
Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2): Cech, Bosingwa (Luiz 72), Ivanovic, Terry (c), Cole, Mikel (Malouda 71), Essien, Lampard, Anelka; Torres (Kalou 65), Drogba.