The rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool does not have much history, but there is no love lost between the Reds and the Blues. Here is a look at 5 games that hold significance in the recent history between these two sides.
Liverpool 0 – 2 Chelsea, April 27 2014, Anfield
The ill feeling between Liverpool and Chelsea supporters this season has its roots during a heartbreaking defeat for Liverpool at Anfield when they were on the cusp of winning a first ever Premier League. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea had thrown away the title thanks to defeats to Aston Villa and Sunderland, and traveled to Anfield with a semi final against Atletico Madrid coming up. Plenty has been written about this game, so to cut a long story short, Chelsea brought Liverpool and their supporters crashing down to earth from an 11-match unbeaten run, while Jose Mourinho and Chelsea showed the world how they would kill off games against higher profile teams in future. This game is not remembered for the best football; but the fact that Liverpool have to form a guard of honour for a team that cost them the title makes this game significant in the history between these two sides. The confidence displayed by Liverpool supporters prior to this game drove Chelsea to victory, and Liverpool will now want to use the sickening feeling of forming the guard of honour to drive them towards a big win this time around.
Liverpool 2 – 0 Chelsea, November 7 2010, Anfield
Most games between Liverpool and Chelsea are not known for the finest football. Liverpool traditionally attack Chelsea on the front foot, while Chelsea (irrespective of who their manager is) are happy to sit back and hit Liverpool on the counter. These games tend to have a “1-1 draw” written all over them.
Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Chelsea came at a time when Liverpool played some of their worst football in recent times under Roy Hodgson. While it gave Liverpool supporters hope they would turn things around under the now England manager, this game would eventually serve as the audition of Fernando Torres for Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea top brass. Torres was not an unknown quantity to the Blues, but one could argue that the two goals Torres scored convinced Chelsea to make the offer that Liverpool could not refuse two months afterward.
Chelsea 4 – 4 Liverpool, April 14 2009, Stamford Bridge
Five years before Chelsea stopped Liverpool from winning a first Premier League title, Liverpool were chasing Manchester United in the race for the title under Rafa Benitez. Benitez’s side were also chasing a two-goal deficit that they conceded thanks to two towering headers from Branislav Ivanovic 6 days earlier, with the winner going on to eventually face Barcelona in a Champions League semifinal.
Winning by a 3 goal margin over Chelsea was never going to be easy, but Liverpool started catching up pretty early. The first half was a horror show for Chelsea as Liverpool threatened to overhaul the deficit they were faced with, first by scoring two within the first half hour, and then turning 2-3 into 4-3, threatening to turn it into a 5-3 win that would have taken them through to the next round. There is a common theme between Chelsea teams over the past decade – they sometimes play the kind of football that purists love, and bore opposition teams to death on other occasions, but often do just was is required in terms of the result. This was a night when they just did. Liverpool, on the other hand, scored 4 goals in two games (against Arsenal, one week later), yet came away with nothing.
Liverpool 1 – 0 Chelsea, May 1 2007, Anfield
This game is often regarded as one of the great tactical battles between Liverpool and Chelsea, esp given that a place in the Champions League final was at stake. Chelsea were the two-time defending champions about to lose their crown, while Liverpool were regarded as cup specialists under Rafa Benitez. There was literally nothing to separate these two teams. Missed chances from both sides, a goal disallowed for Dirk Kuyt, and scarcely believable goalkeeping performances on both sides meant that penalties were the only way to get a result. Couple that with the once famous atmosphere on the Kop and you had a night worthy of the Champions League semifinal.
Liverpool supporters saw Chelsea as the noveau riche side that stormed their way to trophies through their enormous wealth, while also looking down upon their lack of history. Chelsea supporters, on the other hand, developed resentment through defeats to Liverpool in the Champions League that stopped their side from winning a Champions League more than once. Defeat to Liverpool once again contributed to the hurt that Chelsea supporters continued to go through watching their side stumble near the finish line every year, until they finally won in 2012.
It is also worth noting that one week after this game, Chelsea led by John Terry had to form a guard of honour for then champions elect Manchester United at home. Losing their Premier League crown and failing to win the Champions League saw their season being regarded as a relative failure, and one can argue that this defeat may have played on the mind of owner Roman Abramovich when he sacked Mourinho 5 months later.
Chelsea 3 – 2 Liverpool, February 27 2005, Millenium Stadium (Cardiff)
Winning the Carling Cup is not as rewarding as it was in the past. But teams that have won it recently have either dropped off the league table in the following months (Liverpool in 2012 and Swansea in 2013 are cases in point), or have gone on to win the league title. Jose Mourinho had come off a Champions League victory in the previous season, while Rafa Benitez joined Liverpool on the back of a UEFA Cup win.
It turns out that there was a lot to gain in winning the Carling Cup, as Chelsea used their victory to develop a “winning mentality” that would serve them well through their two Premier League wins in two seasons. An own goal from Steven Gerrard at Cardiff also prompted a chain of events that suggested that he would favour a switch to west London. Liverpool dropped off in the league table, finally finishing fifth, and needed to win the Champions League in order to stay in it next season. Liverpool-Chelsea games have been watched closely due to the multiple subplots that developed over the years, and like the games previously listed, the near decade craving for Steven Gerrard’s signature by Jose Mourinho arguably began at Cardiff on a cold Sunday night. Jose Mourinho usually gets what he wants, but it is worth noting how he regards his failure to sign Gerrard as one of his biggest transfer market failures.