Chelseaai??i??s tryst with disaster continues as visitors Liverpool win their third straight league victory over their capital rivals in style. Maxi Rodriguez, in his first league appearance of the season gave the visitors lead in the first half. Sturridge pegged one back for the home team into the second half, but a late strike from ex-Chelsea fullback Glen Johnson made sure that Liverpool stay in the hunt for the elusive fourth spot.

Chelsea went into the game having lost two of their last three games and yet to register a clean sheet at home, having conceded nine goals so far. Cech managed to keep clean sheet only on two occasions this season, when Alex played full 90 minutes on the pitch. But much to Alexai??i??s displeasure, Luiz got the nod to partner Terry for this game. Their rivals, Liverpool, went into the game with an unbeaten record of eight premiership games. Dalglish, as a manager of Liverpool had never lost against Chelsea in eleven previous meetings. To top it all, Chelsea have failed to score against the red half of Merseyside five times in the last seven encounters, three out of the last four occasions at Stamford Bridge itself.

There were selection surprises for both the teams as big money January arrivals Torres(Chelsea) and Carroll(Liverpool) could only make the bench, both of whom have a combined effort of scoring 7 goals between them in 27 league appearances for their respective clubs ever since their arrival. Chelsea fielded a 4-3-3 formation, Ivanovic replacing Bosingwa as the right-back. The talking point became the inclusion of Mikel in the side, ahead of Meireles, and playing Malouda instead of an in form Sturridge. As for Liverpool, Bellamy played behind lone striker Suarez up front in a 4-4-1-1 set up.

First Half

Chelsea had the better of the early exchanges as they created a couple of chances within the first ten minutes. As the game wore on, Liverpool players got into the groove of things and soon enough they started to connect well and stretched Chelseaai??i??s left flank on a couple of occasions. At this time, Chelseaai??i??s 4-3-3 was operating more like a 4-2-3-1, with Drogba cutting a sorry solitary figure up front, tightly marked out by Skrtel and Agger, and with no help whatsoever from Ramires and Malouda on wider role.

Just over twenty minutes from kick-off, Drogba finally came into the spot-light, only for once in the entire half when his free-kick effort grazed the side-netting, leaving half the crowd in frenzy over an apparent goal for the home team.

As both teams were playing with two midfielders on a holding role, opportunities were hard to come by in a congested midfield. Chelseaai??i??s occasional long ball ploy did not work as Drogba was isolated and for Liverpool Suarez and Kuyt could not get their final passes right on more than an occasion to get their team ahead.

The Game Changer

.

Then came the moment of reckoning for Mikel and Villas-Boas on thirty third minute when Cech decided to play a pass to the Nigerian. Though many would scrutinize Cechai??i??s reasoning to pass the ball on to Mikel instead of taking a normal goal-kick, one should not take away any credit from Mikel for playing his part to perfection for the opening goal. Mikel received the ball, facing Cech, having little idea that Charlie Adam was right behind him to close him down and the rest is history. Adam won the ball well, Bellamy reacted quickly and combined well with Suarez inside the box in a three-on-two situation and unselfishly squared the ball to an unguarded Rodriguez who made no mistake to put the visitors ahead.

Things started to get worse for Chelsea as David Luiz got involved in a couple of incidents. One saw him getting booked, and on the other occasion, despite seeing that Ivanovic is standing deep down in defense, Luiz tried to play Surez offside and had almost gifted Liverpool a second goal. At half-time Liverpool stayed ahead in the contest with that solitary goal, leaving Villas-Boas to find an answer to the puzzle called, ai???Team Selectionai??i??.

Second Half

The second half started off well for the home team. Villas-Boas made Chelsea fans a little bit more hopeful of rosy things to come as Sturridge replaced Mikel at the break. Drogba and Malouda made a few decent runs to create opportunities. Drogba even managed to get inside the penalty box, get away from Skrtel and take a shot which missed the target only by a whisker.

Then after ten minutes from restart, Chelsea drew level with Liverpool when Sturridge netted the equalizer. It could be termed as a rather fortuitous goal, as Maloudaai??i??s mis-timed and mis-directed shot on goal served as a good low cross for Sturridge at the far post. The goal seemed to have done a world of good to the Chelsea players as they kept attacking. Within a few minutes Chelsea came close to take lead when Luiz connected smartly to a delightful cross from Drogba, only to be miraculously denied by the safe hands of Reina. The save would, in the end go on to haunt Chelsea as that would be their final substantial chance in the game.

Soon afterwards, Ramires got booked for a rash challenge and then Kuyt became the first non-Brazilian to get booked for the day. The game entered a slumbering phase with two sides appearing content with a stalemate. Liverpool looked to play for a draw as Dalglish replaced a more attacking option in Bellamy with Henderson. Soon they also replaced the goal scorer Rodriguez with wingman Downing. The only talking point during this dull phase was Maloudaai??i??s adventurous chest trap and back-volley on the go off a Mata chip.

With less than ten minutes left, Chelsea finally brought in Torres and Meireles to face their old club. Four minutes later, Henderson nutmegged a couple of defenders and cut inside from Chelsea left flank to release Kuyt with a potential match winning pass, only for the latter to make a hash of the opportunity by failing to keep the shot on target.

Three minutes from time, in this game of ai???players facing their ex-clubai??i??, it was Glen Johnson who stole the limelight from Torres and Meireles by netting the winner. Johnson received the ball deep into the Chelsea left flank, made short work of Ashley Coleai??i??s defensive skills. Then he cut inside the penalty box, kept running with the ball knowing fully well that an onrushing Malouda would not be putting a challenge on him owing to a potential penalty and then coolly slotted home the winner, tantalizingly out of reach of Cechai??i??s outstretched hand and Terryai??i??s outstretched leg.

Johnson sealed Chelsea's fate

.

Liverpool brought on their last possible substitution, Carroll, who replaced Suarez in the dying minutes of the game. Chelsea created a couple of half-decent chances in the remaining time through Torres and Meireles but Liverpool defense held onto their lead firmly and managed to win all three points, bringing them back on level terms with Chelsea in points, taking them to sixth place in the table, ahead of Arsenal and just behind Tottenham.

Things we learned from this match

  • No, we would never know why Mikel was fielded ahead of Meireles.
  • Michael Essien is irreplaceable in this Chelsea side.
  • Irresepective of his talent, David Luiz needs to curb his over-enthusiasm or else he could be potentially suicidal player for Chelsea.
  • Charlie Adam and Lucas form a very strong unit in a holding role. The unit helps release the pressure off the defenders, as well as helps in letting the other midfielders concentrate on creating opportunities.
  • Ashley Cole has not been at his defensive best this season. Liverpool created plenty of opportunities down his flank.

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2 Responses to “Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool : Post Mortem”

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  1. Inspector says:

    Great analysis, very unbiased! Well done.

  2. Aditya Sharma says:

    Hopefully AVB won’t be playing Mikel again anytime soon, His inclusion in the side was probably an attempt to provide the back 4 additional cover, but back-fired with John Obi actually aiding in the first goal.
    I also think it’s high time that Chelsea off–loaded Malouda. Though he has certain favorable attributes, he loses the ball too often, and doesn’t seem to contribute in Chelsea’s attacks as much as he should.