- Dirty Sanchez: Wenger set to lose another Weapon from his Arsenal?
- Ibriana Jones: Red Devils of the Lost Ark!
- Chelsea set to win Title at a Kante!
- Leicester face tough choices as losses compile
- The Year of the Roo-ster!
- Marvel at the latest Craven Cottage arrival: Fulham Sign Thanos!
- Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record is a rare piece of Manchester United history. Take notice.
- MOTD: Ibrahimovic salvages United point against Liverpool
- The Crystal (Palace) Maze!
- Glory Days for Andre Gray!
MOTD: Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Chelsea’s season hasn’t been perfect so far – out of thirty-four matches they have won “only” twenty-five times. However, of their seven draws and two losses, in just three or four matches did they really lose control of the match: namely, in parts of their 1-1 draw with Manchester City, their 2-1 loss to Newcastle United, and the recent 5-3 loss at Tottenham. That is where Chelsea stand out – they are almost always in control of the tempo of a match. Whether sitting back, pushing forward or maintaining possession, they manage to shift gears precisely as required to continue dictating play.
That is what makes today’s game stand out, for while Liverpool did not get the win they desired, they frequently blew Chelsea to pieces. Holding sixty-two percent of possession and limiting Chelsea to only one shot from open play (blasted well over the bar by Filipe Luis), they conceded a needless penalty that resulted in a 1-1 draw. Yet ignoring the scoreline, Liverpool made this match something new by taking control away from Chelsea. Though The Blues seemed happy to sit back after taking the lead, Liverpool blew them apart and, after their equalizer, forced Jose Mourinho’s men into an uncomfortable position. Chelsea will be quite thankful to take the upper hand of an away goal into the Capital One Cup second leg at home. Even Mourinho admitted, rather overselling his side, that it was a “fair result” for Liverpool.
Chelsea is largely indebted to Thibaut Courtois’ excellent goalkeeping, which included five magnificent saves. Steven Gerrard — who struck the post — Raheem Sterling, and Adam Lallana were all to test Courtois on the night, as well as contributing outstanding performances. Liverpool were not just pressing high up the pitch for the majority of the second half and parts of the first, but did so with purpose and created quality chances getting in-between Chelsea’s back line
It only goes to show the confusion they created among Chelsea that Sterling was allowed the space to split John Obi Mikel and Nemanja Matic, the most defensive midfield pair in Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1, turn with the ball and run at Gary Cahill. Perhaps the only aspect of their game the center-back pairing of Cahill and John Terry lack is pace, and thus Sterling blew past the Englishman and tucked a low finish home.
At that point, fifty-nine minutes in, Liverpool clearly deserved something from the match. Chelsea had been wary going forward from the beginning, setting up in a defensive lineup while Liverpool dominated possession early on. In fact, fifteen minutes in, only the fingertips of Courtois’ kept Chelsea from going behind via Gerrard’s dipping twenty-five yard volley.
Chelsea’s tactic looked destined to pay off, however, just two minutes later Emre Can needlessly brought down Eden Hazard on the left side of Liverpool’s penalty area and the winger buried the subsequent penalty. Liverpool continued to push forward but took until the second half to rediscover their rhythm.
When they did, Liverpool pushed effectively high up the pitch. Sterling’s goal came after fifteen minutes of Liverpool pressure and completely changed the tone of the match. Chelsea was forced to come out of their shell, leaving them more exposed at the back. Gerrard nearly scored in front of the Kop, only to see his seemingly perfect curled finish, which was one of the few on the night to beat Courtois to bounce off the outside of the post. Both Henderson and Sterling gave Courtois more cause for worry, but none more so than substitute Lallana, whose late thirty-five yard volley was only saved by an incredible diving effort from Courtois. Chelsea, today, found themselves in a relatively new position – thankful for the scoreline, as opposed to pleased or frustrated by it.
Man of the Match: Raheem Sterling
Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons and Ronnie Macdonald