Chelsea’s Premier League aspirations look increasingly slim after a dismal display at home against Liverpool. Chelsea inflicted a second home defeat in a row, something not done since 2002, and the pressure turned up a notch on AVB. Maxi scored the opener for Liverpool in an awful first half for Chelsea, but having clawed one back through Daniel Sturridge in a much-improved second half, Glen Johnson scored a beautiful goal near the end of the match, to leave Chelsea 12 points away from the leaders Manchester City.
AVB opted to shuffle his pack of cards out again, but instead of picking the aces, he picked the jokers. David Luiz came in to partner John Terry, whilst Drogba, just back from his suspension, was at the top in place of former Reds man Torres, flanked by Mata and Malouda, not Sturridge.
Chelsea did not start brightly, Maxi and Suarez found space many times in the opening ten minutes which gave all the home supporters much anxiety. Chelsea’s first attempt was through Florent Malouda, but his shot was harmless. Next tried John Obi Mikel, but his shot flew over Pepe Reina’s goal. The ominous sign came as early as the twelfth minute. Match-winner Johnson was allowed to run and run down the right flank, and with no-one there to close him down, he practically walked it into Petr Cech. Thankfully the big Czech, with his Batman-style mask, smothered the danger. Drogba had a free-kick on the nineteenth minute which everyone in the stadium thought had gone in. Unfortunately, it was the rippling of the side-netting, much to the relief of the stranded Reina.
But Chelsea did not heed to the ominous signs. On the 33rd minute, Cech passed straight to Mikel when Luiz and Terry had deliberately gone wide to free space. The Nigerian dallied on the ball and Charlie Adam stole it from him. Some beautiful play ensued, before Bellamy passed to Maxi in tons of space, who coolly lifted it over Petr Cech.
AVB changed tactics in the second half. Mikel came off and on came Sturridge, reverting to a 4-2-3-1, with Ramires and Lampard anchoring. And the England man made an instant impact from the bench. Malouda drove and drove and hit a wayward shot, only for Sturridge to tap home from two yards: 1-1.
Chelsea were looking the stronger side, and the momentum from the goal nearly created a second. Drogba floated in a sublime free-kick, and Ivanovic’s delicate header was turned round the post from point-blank range by Reina.
Malouda had a great opportunity again to put Chelsea in front but his volley was well wide when he really ought to have done better.
Chelsea dominated the possession in the second half but when Kenny Dalglish brought off Bellamy and put on Henderson to stuff Chelsea out, Chelsea were getting frustrated. In turn, they brought on ex-Reds men Meireles and Torres. But in the 87th minute and with precious time ticking away, it was a former Blues man who did the damage. As per usual, the back-line was lacking. Glen Johnson drove and skipped past two defenders, and coolly slotted past Cech.
Game over. Pressure ever-increasing. [NB. See “What We Learnt From Chelsea vs Liverpool“]
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