Monday, November 12, 2012
Chelsea 1 - 1 Liverpool
11 November 2012
Ref Howard Webb
This game came after a week in which teams from the east caused problems for these two English sides.
Worryingly for Blues fans, Shakhtar Donetsk outplayed Chelsea for long stretches even though Victor Moses gave the European Champions a last minute winner; Shakhtar's Willian was the best player on show and surely must be on the radar to be included in Brazil's national team for 2014.
Away at Anji Makhachkala, Liverpool looked bereft of attacking ideas in a 3-7-0 formation, the lack of a forward up on the Anji offside line allowing for no outlet ball, especially in the absence of a player with real aerial power – the loan of Andy Carroll to West Ham United, particularly when Liverpool are in a rebuilding phase, looks increasingly like a poor decision.
We know Brendan Rogers likes his players to be relaxed before kick off, and the smiling Raheem Sterling seems to be following orders in the pre-match warm up. Will Joe Cole, on the bench for Liverpool, come on to torment his previous employers? Likewise, how will Torres do against Liverpool? He was poor against the Ukrainians midweek with Chelsea moves breaking down on his receiving the ball.
The whole stadium stands in silence for Remembrance Day, Chelsea Pensioners included.
Liverpool once more are playing with three at the back, against Chelsea's 4-2-3-1.
3' Agger, despite being one of the back three, finds himself in the Chelsea penalty area. Total football from the get-go.
When the Liverpool back three are switching the ball between themselves, it is Joe Allen and/or Gerrard checking back to allow for the vertical pass. Torres, coming back beyond the halfway line to get the ball, looks the most exciting player in these early stages, flicking the ball over a defender's head, and a half moon round another before surging toward goal. This is reminiscent of his attacks from deep for Atletico Madrid; he looks a much better player doing this than as a stationary figure up against a centre half.
18' Carragher pushes the mobile Torres in the back, but Ivanovic's free kick is blasted over.
19' Goal. Torres wins a corner, Terry makes a near-post run, and, unmarked, plants his header in the postage stamp position. 1 – 0. Poor defending.
26' Torres shoots after Hazard unsurprisingly outmuscles Allen in midfield.
28' Gerrard continues to make forward runs, but the Chelsea defensive mids are tracking well.
30' A third of the game gone and Liverpool have their second shot.
31' Is it Suarez' first touch of the ball? It's a good one though: a nice ball played into space.
Most of the work being done by Liverpool is down the left flank with Jose Enrique very busy as the wingback.
34' Suarez is pushed by Ramires and collides with John Terry, who us back from his four-match suspension for racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand. Terry, in his 558th game for the Blues, is stretchered off with suspected knee ligament damage. Things are not going well for the former England captain as there have been rumours about a January departure from Stamford Bridge, with Valencia as a possible destination. 40' Sahin takes a corner that is so low that not only does it not beat the first defender in the air, it is half volleyed away by Oscar.
43' An interesting moment where Cech's kicked pass to Cahill, whose body position is only a quarter of a turn wrong, leads to an overly hurried clearance and a Liverpool surge forward. From such apparently minor things do matches turn.
48' The three-man defence is exposed for the first time in open play as Carragher is inexplicably attracted to a ball down the left which should have been dealt with by Agger. Brendan Rogers pre-match assertion that the Liverpool team is comfortable in a 3-5-2 is put to the test. Apart from one small slip, Wisdom looks solid on the left.
At half time Chelsea can take heart from the fact that they have restricted Liverpool to exactly zero chances. It's only a single goal lead though.
57' Great save by Jones from Torres' header. Torres has been Chelsea's most effective player. Given he is the lone striker, one of the hardest working, too.
66' Gerrard's petulance gives Chelsea a free kick, but Mata's ball is in inch too high for Torres.
71' Suddenly Suarez surges forward, Wisdom bombs up the right. Corner. Suso – on for the ineffectual Sahin – takes. Carragher's near-post flick and there is Suarez unmarked to head into the empty net. And if Suarez hadn't finished it, Agger, also unmarked, would have. Schoolboy defending.
81' Torres is taken off; Sturridge on.
85' Suarez shoots from the sideline near the halfway line, but Cech gets back to save.
86' Ivanovic heads just over from Mata's corner.
87' Suarez is played in by the hardworking Jose Enrique, but Cech comes out of his area to clear with his legs.
89' Good feet by Hazard on the left, he then shoots wide in the second phase.
93' A sweeping Liverpool move leads to man of the match Jose Enrique shooting at the near post, but it is saved by Peter Cech.
An improved Liverpool have done the Manchester clubs a favour. Chelsea may need to dip into the market in January for shooting power. Both teams have to work on defending set pieces.
1 – 1.