FA Cup Final
Ramires (11), Drogba (52)
All too often FA Cup Finals don’t live up to the hype. Sides are often very cautious, afraid to lose rather than confident about going for the win. They become cagey affairs almost to point that attention starts to wonder and then something will happen to snap everyone back into the way of things.
This final started in such a way and unfortunately it took us some time to get into the swing of things. Sadly by the time we were rocking we were two goals down. We finished the stronger side as Chelsea creaked and cracked under our pressure however, they held the line (literally in the case of Andy Carroll’s header) and we ran out of time.
Kenny, with no injury worries, had plenty of options open to him. There was clearly no room for sentiment as Andy Carroll, the scorer of the winner in the semi final, was benched in favour of Bellamy. Ironically Fernando Torres whose transfer is inextricably linked with Carroll’s, was also left out. The midfield consisted of Gerrard, Downing and Spearing and, perhaps surprisingly, Jordan Henderson.
If you had asked me just after the match about the timing the Chelsea’s first goal I would have said it was about half an hour into the game it was a surprise that it only took Ramires eleven minutes to edge them in front. Spearing failed to bring the ball under control allowing Mata to feed the midfielder. More mistakes were to follow as Enrique, rather than shepherding the player wide, or jockeying him, opted to dive in and was consequently skinned leaving Reina to bale us out. He gambled and started to go to his right even before the shot had been taken Ramires must have spotted this, why else did he put it to his left?
Despite mustering a response via Bellamy’s effort from Johnson’s cross and having plenty of possessionChelsealooked fairly comfortable as our midfield failed to spark. Downing, Henderson and Spearing laboured terribly meaning that Gerrard could not get forward to support the increasingly isolated Suarez. Perhaps Kenny would think about sorting this at half time however, like many managers, it looked as if he decided to give it a bit longer. Sadly Chelsea ensured that any substitute would have his work cut out. This time Spearing failed to dispossess Lampard who feed Drogba on the edge of our area who fired a low cross shot past Reina left when perhaps all the red shirts around him though he wasn’t going to be so direct?
Kenny wasted no time in bringing on Carroll and within ten minutes he put us back in it after a nifty soft shoe shuffle in front of Terry before crashing the ball into the roof of the net. Carroll lead the recovery giving the Chelsea back four a rude wake up call from what had been a relatively sedate early evening. This seemed to inspire Suarez who forced a good save from Cech diving low at his right hand post.
Carroll’s header, from Bellamy’s cross which Cech turned onto the crossbar was not fully over the line. Although the referee got it right the usual arguments over goal line gizmos will resurface again and the powers that be will ignore them, again! Perhaps there was certain ironic justice for Chelsea fans still smarting over Luis Garcia “ghost goal” all those years ago? However, the key issue forLiverpoolwas their poor start. Said Kenny in a post match interview
“You can’t give a team likeChelseatwo goals start. But this same group of players will move on and get better next season and whether other players come in to join them wasn’t going to be dictated by today. Today’s group of players will be better for the experience they have had, even though it has not been a good one”
Argh and of course their’s Liverpool’s season. Whatever happened on Saturday the conclusion is surely the same, more work to be done “work in progress”. Had we won this would have been approached with as less critical view however, the doom merchants should remember how far we come over the last eighteen months and this final, along with the Carling Cup, serves as useful reminders of that?
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Bosingwa, Terry, Ramires (Meireles – 76′ ), Lampard, Mikel, Mata (Malouda – 90′ ), Drogba, Kalou Substitutes: Turnbull. Ferreira, Essien, Malouda, Meireles, Torres, Sturridge
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Spearing (Carroll – 55′ ), Suarez, Bellamy (Kuyt – 78′ ) Substitutes: Doni, Carragher, Kelly, Maxi, Shelvey, Carroll, Kuyt