Drogba 33, Lampard 54
In 1986 Kenny Dalglish took his Liverpool team to Stamford Bridge. A win would mean we would secure the Championship. This was duly achieved thanks to a strike from the boss himself. That year we went on to win the double. Will the same scenario repeat itself for Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti who took an another, perhaps decisive, step to Premiership title against a tired and dreadfully out of sorts Reds. If ever there was a good time to go to Anfield needing a result it was yesterday?
Many, as some sort of half ar*ed compromise to the situation surrounding this match, suggested Rafa should field some youngsters however, he rang some changes Mascherano persevered at right back Johnson had a slight calf strain so Kyrgiakos was bought Maxi returned from being cup tied, Babel made way.
Chelsea began positivity with Ashley Cole pushing up. I don’t know what they thought we going to do but as it became apparent that we weren’t going to let them walk the ball into the net immediately, they retreated into their shell and became a tad more apprehensive.
First real chance was from Aquilani who produced a fierce strike from outside the box that grazed the cross bar and then the top of the net. Lucas then produced a similar strike however, the height achieved by this effort was considerable more than Aquilani’s! Later Maxi with a superb “sand iron” pass put the Italian through but he dithered when he probably should have hit it first time allowing Ivanovic to intervene. Good pressure with us getting a solid grip on midfield and producing plenty of positive moves which is why the first goal should considered to be against the run of play.
Chelsea had a throw in that was dealt with. Gerrard picked the ball up but, rather than take it forward, he opted to pass back to Reina. Drogba, who was presumably unsighted by the Liverpool Captain, stole in to collect, round Reina and slot home. Ironic that given the circumstances that we should concede in this way and that Gerrard, the butt of many a Mancs fan’s venom should play the part he did? A bad mistake but boy would I love to be a fly on the TV Fergie, and hopefully Gary Neville, were watching! No doubt some with a warped sense of perspective clouded by emotion will say Gerrard acted deliberately – nonsense!
The goal seemed to galvanise Chelsea. Lampard nearly made it two and then Anelka, who was clean through, only failed to score thanks to a last ditch Kyrgiakos tackle. An open half of end to end stuff was rounded off when Kalou broke free from a tussle with Carragher and advanced into the area with Lucas in close attendance. The Brazilian, albeit unintentionally thanks to Kalou cutting across him, made contact. However, there seemed to be a delay before Kalou went to ground which perhaps convinced the referee not to give it? Nonetheless it was a lucky escape.
Chelsea began the second half with Anelka just failing to get on the end of a ball that dangerously went across our six yard area. A lot of this was coming from Mascherano’s area of the pitch who Chelsea had, correctly and sadly from our viewpoint, picked out as point of weakness. Despite this the next goal came from the right. Anelka, Ivanovic and Drogba exchanged passes before the ball was arrowed across the six area again. This time Lampard, played on side by Mascherano, made no mistake to put Chelsea firmly in control.
Two nil down with nearly a full half to go Whatever the views of those Liverpool fans who wouldn’t mind a Chelsea win surely there was no way they want to see us thrashed? Malouda nearly made it three but was denied by an excellent Reina save. Later he was at it again denying Kalou after spilling Anelka’s shot when we were outnumbered on the break We desperately needed a goal however the nearest we got was a skied effort from Agger and our first effort on target came right at the end from Dirk Kuyt – that says it all?
Many will see this game as a milestone in the race for the title but what of us? Could this conceivable be Rafa’s last game at Anfield? Only time will tell and I suspect that as I write this, he, the players the board aren’t one hundred percent certain? However, it was a sad day. No joy should taken from Chelsea now being favourites for the title at the expense of the Mancs. The result just underlines the poor season, on and off the pitch, we have had. Nothing, in terms of consequences, has given yet but perhaps today, if reports are true and with one game left, the first glimpses of change might not be far away?
Liverpool: Reina, Agger, Kyrgiakos, Carragher (Ayala 57), Aquilani (Ngog 77), Gerrard, Benayoun, Maxi (Babel 42), Mascherano, Lucas, Kuyt Substitutes: Cavalieri, Degen, Ayala, Babel, Ngog, El Zhar, Pacheco
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, A Cole, Terry, Alex, Lampard, Ballack, Malouda, Drogba, Kalou , Zhirkov 88), Anelka (J Cole 90+2) Substitutes: Hilario, Ferreira, Belletti, J Cole, Zhirkov, Deco, Sturridge