Chelsea v Liverpool 
- Match Analysis

In central defence Luiz was given the go to partner Terry, while in midfield, Ramires, Mikel and Lampard kept their places from the win at Blackburn. Up front, Drogba came in for Sturridge. Both Torres and Meireles started on the bench against their former club.

For Liverpool, Agger and Skrtel started at the heart of the defence. In midfield there were starts for both Kuyt and Maxi. Manager Kenny Dalglish opted for pace up front, with Bellamy playing behind Suarez.

In a lively opening, Chelsea were almost exposed as early as the second minute when a Bellamy through ball came close to releasing Suarez, but Terry was on hand to cover.

The Blues were looking to utilise Mata and Drogba early on but Liverpool were defending well.

Chelsea’s first sight of goal came in the 9th minute when Mata arrived at the far post to get on the end of a Malouda cross, but his effort rolled across the danger zone before being cleared.

The Blues’ best chance until that point came in the 19th minute when Drogba’s free kick sailed narrowly past the post with Reina stranded.

After a brief spell of pressure, Liverpool took the lead in the 33rd minute. A careless Cech pass put Mikel in trouble, and as the midfielder lost the ball, Bellamy released Maxi just inside the penalty area, and the Argentinian finished cooly.

Sturridge replaced Mikel after half time, in an attacking switch by Villas-Boas, and the move paid off nine minutes later when Malouda was allowed to roam, before firing across goal; the Liverpool defence failed to clear the danger and Sturridge prodded home from close range.

Chelsea were almost in front a minute later when Ivanovic’s header from Lampard’s free kick was well saved. The game was bubbling nicely with Chelsea on the front foot, and it certainly helped the atmosphere inside the ground.
Chelsea were dominating in terms of possession, but the visitors were still causing problems, particularly on the counter attack.

Dalglish appeared to be content to play for a draw as he reshuffled his side, bringing Henderson on for the dangerous Bellamy in the 65thminute and leaving Suarez up front on his own.

Chelsea could have gone in front in the 74th minute when Malouda volleyed an Ivanovic cross across the danger zone, but again, nobody reacted quickly enough.

The introduction of Torres came in the 83rd minute when he and another former Liverpool man, Meireles, came on for Drogba and Ramires.

Against the run of play Liverpool took the lead with only three minutes remaining, when Johnson was allowed to skip past two defenders and cut into the Chelsea penalty area before expertly sliding past Cech.

As the clock ran down, Chelsea’s last chance of a leveller was wasted when Meireles blasted over from distance.

Villas-Boas admitted in his post-match press conference that the number of goals his team are conceding is causing concern with this defeat to Liverpool leaving no further margin for error in the league campaign. This was the Blues fourth league defeat of the season and leaves us 12-points behind Manchester City at the top.
“There was an improvement from the first half to the second half in terms of aggressiveness and the way the team played, but not sufficient to collect the three points, when the second half looked to be going our way, Liverpool made the most of a good opportunity, so it is a decisive moment that changes the nature of how the game was going because we were looking good. That is why we did not make a lot of changes in the second half because the team was looking positive and was creating opportunities. The decisive moment was how Johnson got free on the opposite side with the ball and how he got through to score.

The amount of goals that we are conceding is something that worries of course, but we trust our defensive organisation but there is immense talent at our disposal and we believe that we will get it right.

We need to organise a little bit better. When you go into a situation like this, conceding goals and being so low in the league, you focus on the details that we have to get right and we know where we have to improve. We are a team that does not concede a lot of opportunities but the opponent has found the efficiency that we haven’t found yet.”

Chelsea remain in fourth place but could be overtaken by Tottenham who play Aston Villa on Monday night.

“The situation in the league is not good for us, it is not impossible to turn it around but it is not the brightest of starts in the Premier League for Chelsea in the last 10 years.

But the belief is there in the team to try to rectify things. It doesn’t look good 12 points behind a strong leader but the December fixtures give us hope and we have to make the most of them.

The perspective is we have to win every game if we want to make this a title challenge. There is no running away from responsibilities, there is no calling this a year of transition. Our responsibility is to win the most amount of trophies and at the moment we are in all of them and that is what we have to believe and focus on.”

Chelsea’s next game is away at Bayer Leverkusen for the Champions League on Wednesday 23rd November.

By Clare Smith

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