Ivanovic 39, 62, Drogba 67.
A day late not due to the sulks but so called birthday “celebrations”. Last year on the same day we overcame Arsenal at Anfield to progress to the semi finals however no such present this year!
Before this game Rafa said
“We are both big teams and it will be down to just one or two mistakes. Keeping a clean sheet is important in the first game for both teams, I would prefer to play at Anfield second, but that is not the case so we must get on with it.”
I don’t think Rafa could have envisaged that the “one or two mistakes” would be made so early in the tie to the point that almost gives the second game at Stamford Bridge dead rubber status. I know I have to believe and I want to believe and I probably will believe but at the moment it seems like learning how to knit fog is more achievable pastime!
For the neutrals this must have been a good watch. End to end stuff and plenty of chances it’s as if the defenders, who were so key in previous clashes, managed to unshackle themselves and go down the pub leaving the rest to get on with it! Give me a dull but reassuring 0-0 now!
Rafa fielded what was probably his strongest line with the exception of Lucas who deputised for the suspended Maschernao. The start was perfect or so it seemed. However, perhaps Torres’ goal, routinely and clinically despatched after good work from Kuyt and Arbeloa, served to lull us into a false sense of security? One thing is certainly it certainly galvanised Chelsea. The old adage that a side is always vulnerable after a goal was certainly true here. The cheering had barely subsided before our defence was caught with… well I don’t know what hey doing but whatever it was Drogba found himself with a priceless one on one with Reina. Before the game Reina described the Ivorian as a “pain in the ass”. Our man did as he did against Kenwyne Jones earlier in the season and stood firm. Drogba’s hurried finish was hit straight at him causing a pain in the midriff!
After that, well you’ve seen the game. There were plenty of chances for us but more for Chelsea and had Drogba not been so poor with this finishing it could have been worse, a lot worse. Eventually he did find his shooting boots to produce the goal that, as far as the tie goes, will probably be a dagger through the heart however the real damage had been done before that.
Ivanovic’s two goals, both from corners, highlighted an age old problem, our inability to defend from set pieces. Many site zonel marking as the culprit. However it mystifies me how this can be applied in the limited confines of a penalty area. “Jamie you take that bit 3 foot square by 3 foot square, Martin this little bit here and Alvaro see that little bit 4 feet by 2 feet, you take that?” Surely with opposition players charging around trying to make space for themselves it can’t work? Does it, or am I being too simplistic? Logically when it comes to set pieces particularly corners you should go man for man, but hell, what the f*ck do I know? Whatever the rights and wrongs of it we failed to shackle Ivanovic. Srktel lost the Serb on the first corner and then Gerrard on the second however perhaps it’s unfair to name names as there were others who just stood and watched “not in my zone Gov”!
Lets’ face it wasn’t just the corners. Chelsea gave us the right run around. Remember Carragher had to clear one off the line? Essein was deployed effectively against Gerrard. It would be easy to slate Lucas but everyone seems to do these days however, the gulf between him and Mascherano is as wide as Chelsea’s victory and on that subject they thoroughly deserved it.
What it does bring home is what an absolutely fickle beast football can be. Exhilaration and frustration when it’s least expected? One week you are on cloud nine having humiliated your fiercest enemy in their own back yard, it’s great. Then, after only a few weeks, this and you feel like taking up netball! It feels bad now but that’s the game I guess?
Where do we go from here? I guess there is only one way and that is forward “Walk On”.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio (Dossena 75), Kuyt, Lucas (Babel 79), Alonso, Riera (Benayoun 67), Gerrard, Torres.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Agger, Ngog.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Ashley Cole, Kalou, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba (Anelka 79).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Carvalho, Belletti, Mancienne, Mikel, Deco.