Familiar Face Decisive At Stamford Bridge

The curse of Liverpool just doesn’t seem to end for the Blues as we suffered our third loss in our last four home games against the men from Merseyside.

Maxi Rodriguez had given Liverpool the lead in the first half, but Chelsea came roaring at them in the beginning of the second half before a late winner from the former Chelsea man, Glen Johnson, ruined the day and brought them level on points with us.

Rather than the indifferent form of the two teams it was the allegations of racism and wastage of money which dominated the discussion before the match as Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres continued to struggle.

Didier Drogba was drafted straight into the starting line-up after his return from injury having served his suspension last week, while David Luiz started in the centre of defence despite Alex keeping a clean sheet alongside John Terry at Ewood Park before the international break.

Liverpool likewise continued to bench the under-performing Andy Carroll, but brought in the effective trio of Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy in addition to Luis Suarez, thus assembling the perfect antidote for our undisciplined defence with their direct running and quick counters.

The game started pretty evenly with both sides matching each other, and so, despite having much of the possession Chelsea failed to create any clear-cut chances while Liverpool looked more than threatening every time they broke.

Juan Mata and John Obi Mikel were the first to try their luck, but failed to hit the target, while a Didier Drogba free-kick caused joyous celebrations amongst the Chelsea faithful only to be denied by the reality of it hitting the side-netting.

After this initial furore, the game settled down and Liverpool’s plan of being patient started to pay-off as the spaces began to open up with the pressure growing on the midfield and defence as we became non-existent as an attacking force.

Juan Mata who started the game brightly and enjoyed decent time on the ball as he spread the play by dropping deep, became anonymous as the game went on, much like the rest of our midfield.

Just on the half hour mark then, the Chelsea team were made to pay for their rather exhaustive backline problems with John Obi Mikel, isolated in possession, was robbed off just outside the box by Charlie Adam as Liverpool players ran like hungry foxes with Chelsea defence line nowhere to be seen, and hugely outnumbered them, allowing Maxi Rodriguez to easily score past Petr Čech after some nice interplay in the build-up.

It was all shambles at the back, consistent with our display this season, and it could have gotten even worse but only for a last minute interception by the irrepressible David Luiz, who was again having one of his typical games

Liverpool went into the game a goal to the good as the Blues produced a rather mediocre display in the first half.

With the team in dire need of some inspiration, Villas-Boas introduced the in-form Daniel Sturridge at the break in place of John Obi Mikel.

And much to the delight of everyone, the substitute had the desired impact as Sturridge pounced on the ball at the back post after a powerful driving run by Florent Malouda created the opening. This was Daniel Sturridge’s fifth goal of the season, although he definitely needs some work on those celebrations it seems.

This goal was the spark the team needed as we drove forward with intent and could have taken the lead just minutes after the goal when Branisalv Ivanovic’s header from a Didier Drogba free-kick looked goal bound until Pepe Reina produced a fantastic save to put it out.

Chelsea was now totally dominant and had majority of the possession and attacked in numbers, at times almost too lavishly and left lots of spaces at the back.

Florent Malouda, who was having one of his best games of the season so far, produced an acrobatic effort, but his overhead kick went wide of the post.

Liverpool were now on the back foot and only one team looked like scoring, especially more so when Kenny Dalglish replaced Craig Bellamy and Maxi Rodriguez, with the out-of-form duo of Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing.

But as the case has been with us this season, the leaky defence came to fore again, and the opposite happened as Liverpool took a shock lead with less than two minutes of normal time remaining.

The goal came out of the blue as Chelsea were in the ascendency, but it didn’t surprise any of the home fans and sent the away fans, whose knowledge level were earlier called into question by their own club, into delirium.

Liverpool are now level on points with us, and only goal difference separates the four teams from fourth to seventh in the table. The fact that Spurs have played two games less and Arsenal was suppose to be in turmoil just a few weeks ago tells the story of our own precarious situation.

Time and again we have dominated games and come out of them with nothing, and when the average fan can recognize the problems we are facing then it wouldn’t be wrong to expect the 15m Euros man to be on top of the situation and provide the answer soon.

In the end, André Villas-Boas was left disappointed by the defeat, and gave the impression that reclaiming the League may already be getting out of hands, he said; “It’s a bad blow for us in the Premiership. It’s a big blow. In terms of the Premiership, things are difficult.

“We have a home game with Wolves next, before Newcastle and then the leaders and we have to try and win those games, as difficult as they are.

“There are lots of points on offer in November and December. The calendar gets tight and maybe we can get some extra points.

“But this is one step closer to an even more difficult situation.”

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires (Meireles 83), Mikel (Sturridge h-t), Lampard; Mata, Drogba (Torres 83), Malouda.

Scorer: Sturridge 54.