Maxi (33), Johnson (87)
A vital win. It doesn’t matter that this was against Chelsea it was simply needed after the recent home hiccups and it keeps us hanging in there.
Hanging in there for what, and for how long, I don’t know but we are running with the pack that’s Okay at the moment. Amid all this one should remember that we are now unbeaten in two months, or nine games if you prefer. Arguably during the course of these games we have created more and walked off with less however, unless you are a Chelsea fan, or only saw the beginning of the second half, no one would deny us this victory not least in the manner in which it was achieved. We walked into Stamford Bridge brazenly took Chelsea on in their own territory and, through a combination of intelligent play and sheer hard work, made them, especially their defence, look ordinary.
Kenny, after the draw with Swansea, made two changes in midfield Maxi and Kuyt replaced Henderson and Downing. Downing’s exclusion was perhaps explained by the omission of Carroll in favour of Bellamy? In fielding Bellamy and Suarez we were perhaps sacrificing the aerial option however, what we lost in this area we more than made up for with pace and movement something that the Chelsea defence has been exposed to on a number of occasions this season and something we have lacked. Bellamy, records books say, also has a good goal scoring record against Chelsea.
Significantly Chelsea preferred Drogba to Torres perhaps suggesting that they thought his physicality would be put to good use against Skrtel and Johnson either that or they are losing patience with their £50m “asset”?
We began well looking comfortable in all parts of the pitch Mikel drove one over the crossbar and then Drogba, from a free kick, hit the pole supporting the net. However other than that no problem, Suarez and Bellamy buzzed about admirably whilst Lucas and Adam stoked the boiler at the back. Above all we didn’t follow the script that most sides visiting Stamford Bridge are given, we took the game to Chelsea and didn’t allow them to settle on the ball. The goal was therefore fully deserved. Adam, typifying the policy of giving Chelsea no time to settle, robbed Mikel who had received Cech’s goal kick. Bellamy took it forward exchanged a crisp one two with Suarez and fed Maxi on the left who side footed past a rather brassed off Cech.
In the second half Chelsea came more into it. Drogba wafted a shot over the cross bar. However, we couldn’t’ resurrect the momentum we had in the first half and Malouda surged into our area and his cross was converted by Sturridge. Enrique and Reina appealed for offside but there was nothing doing. The game was nearly turned on its head when Luiz got on the end of Drogba’s free kick only to see Reina drop down to his left and pull off a superb save. Then Malouda wasted a decent effort from Mata’s cross.
However slowly we began to reassert ourselves Kuyt fired wide after Downing had set him up after good play from Henderson and then Adam found Johnson on the right with one of his killer cross field balls. Johnson waltzed passed Cole as if the full back was on his mobile, shrugged off Malouda’s half hearted challenge and slotted it inside Cech’s right hand post.
After the game Kenny, probably inadvertently, summed up the predicament we have with Johnson.
“It was a great finish by Glen. I don’t know what he was doing in there but it was a great finish.”
What was he doing there at that stage of the game? Like Luiz on the opposition side serious questions still remain about his defence abilities however no one can doubt his ability going forward. It was a sweet moment for Johnson who not only scored against his old club but has had slim pickings this season due to injury, it also reinforces the case for playing him in a more advanced role with a defender behind him?
So a welcome win and Liverpool side that continues to frustrate and please in equal measure. We make reparations for recent slip ups with a win like this! Manchester City next and unbeaten so far this season. What are the odds? If we work this hard surely, even allowing for recent home form, it’s worth a punt?
Finally the team were wearing black arm bands in memory of Brad Jones’ six year son who died of leukaemia recently. My sympathies to player and family at what must be an unimaginably difficult time .
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, David Luiz, Terry, Ramires (Meireles 84), Lampard, Mikel (Sturridge 46), Malouda, Mata, Drogba (Torres 84), Substitutes: Turnbull, Bosingwa, Romeu, Meireles, Torres, Sturridge, Anelka
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Agger, Skrtel, Maxi (Downing 77), Lucas, Adam, Suarez (Carroll 89), Kuyt, Bellamy (Henderson 66) Substitutes: Doni, Carragher, Kelly, Henderson, Downing, Spearing, Carroll