Maxi (58) Kelly (63)
Well so much for crowded fixture lists!
Our second win at Stamford Bridge in ten days and our third on the trot. Eleven games undefeated and now the semi-finals of the Carling Cup, other priorities have meant that this is our real first real sniff of the trophy since 2005.
This was a deserved win. Even though Chelsea made nine changes (which included calling up Torres from the reserves!) it underlined the increased strength in depth we now possess. For all the worry about playing forty eight hours after the Manchester City game the side did not look weak. Four players from Sunday kept their places however, there was no second string feel about the side. If Kenny had fielded this line up in a league game not many eye lids would have been batted, all the players were strong and capable replacements.
The first half was a story of penalty appeals three that weren’t given and one that was. The first involved Luiz who was felled by Coates, the touch was light, and the full back could have ridden it, however, this is the way players exploit things these days. So it was a surprise that Referee Dowd deemed Luiz to have dived and produced a yellow card. Then Luiz nearly went for the earliest of early baths with push on Carroll. It should have been a penalty at our end but Dowd wasn’t having one of his better nights.
Even when Dowd finally pointed to the spot, as result of Alex’s handball from Enrique’s cross, it was after some delay. Quite why it was decided that Andy Carroll should take the penalty when there were plenty of more experienced candidates to step up I don’t know. As it was Turnbull did well diving to block the kick as Carroll opted for power and a straight down the middle approach.
I guess the obvious thing to say is that the missed opportunity could have cost us dearly. Lukaku went close with a header from Bosingwa’s cross, but Chelsea continued to live dangerously. Luiz, who seems to be more and more on a different planet from the rest of his team every time I see him play, simply shuffled in front of Carroll as he chased a loose ball in the box. Carroll fell down the crowd held its breath however nothing doing, Mr Dowd proved he was consistent in his inconsistency!
Chelsea had their best chance at the start of the second half when Malouda got on the end of Lampard’s free kick and hit the bar. Luiz’s attempt the head home the loose ball was foiled by Coates. However, this was wasn’t the signal for sustained onslaught from the home team as we saw in the second half of the league game ten days ago. We simply took over and finished them off.
Our first goal was the result of slick, decisive move that cut through Chelsea. Spearing found Henderson on the right who feed Bellamy. After that it was simple stuff Bellamy accelerated into the box and as the Chelsea defenders were trying to make up ground, his simple pass found Maxi, in more or less the same position as he was for his goal in the league game, he didn’t miss this one either!
Chelsea responded by trying to bring on Anelka and Mata however they had to wait for a free kick that Bellamy had earned to be taken. The Welshman curved it over and Martin Kelly dropped off Luiz and Lukaku to nod it in. Anelka and Torres had chances however, we were more than up to it, the only worry on a night no few worries might be Lucas’ injury which saw him stretchered off.
So a good night and with a fair wind and a good draw perhaps we’ll see silver? More important was the team’s reaction to Kenny’s promises before the game.
“…whatever team we put out on that pitch, they will try as hard as they possibly can for those fans and try to progress in the competition. Everyone on our side of the fence wants to say thank-you to the fans for all the support they gave the players against City.”
The team did just that and in the best possible way.
Chelsea: Turnbull, David Luiz, Bosingwa, Alex, Bertrand, Romeu, Lampard, Malouda (Anelka 64), McEachran (Ramires 41), Torres, Lukaku (Mata 64) Substitutes: Hilario, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Ramires, Mata, Kalou, Anelka
Liverpool: Reina, Jose Enrique, Coates, Carragher, Kelly, Maxi (Skrtel 89), Henderson, Spearing, Lucas (Adam 70), Carroll, Bellamy (Kuyt 79), Substitutes: Doni, Skrtel, Flanagan, Downing, Adam, Suarez, Kuyt