Premier League Match Review: Chelsea 1 - 1 Liverpool
John Terry returned to marshal the defence for Chelsea after having served his four-match ban, as the Blues hosted Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in the English Premier League. Liverpool have enjoyed much success against Chelsea in recent years, winning 5 of the last 6 meetings between the two teams in all competitions. However, judging by the form in the season thus far, as well as the quality of this Chelsea side, it appeared, on paper at least, that the home side would be starting favourites. For Chelsea, Ryan Bertrand filled in for the injured Ashley Cole, who had not yet fully recovered from the hamstring injury that he had sustained against Swansea last week, while Cesar Azpilicueta started in place of David Luiz, who was ailing from tonsillitis. For the visitors, Jamie Carragher came in for the indisposed Martin Skrtel.
The first chance of the game fell to Chelsea when, in the 6th minute, Joe Allen was guilty of giving away the ball cheaply in his own half. Chelsea quickly pounced on the loose ball; Eden Hazard finding Oscar early, but the Brazilian hit over the bar. Chelsea were having the better of the early exchanges and deservedly went ahead in the 20th minute. From a Juan Mata corner, John Terry escaped the attention of Daniel Agger to head home the 50th goal of his Chelsea career. The home side were up and running now, and almost doubled their advantage in the 27th minute, when Hazard went on a driving run from the centre of the pitch, shrugging off Joe Allen easily before feeding Torres. The Spaniard let fly a good strike but it was straight at keeper Brad Jones. The rebound fell to Hazard on the bounce but the Belgian’s strike was off target.
However, it wasn’t going all according to the script for the home side, when, in the 35th minute, John Terry went down in agony clutching his knee, after a stumbling Suarez crashed into him. The Chelsea captain had to be stretchered off and was substituted by Gary Cahill. This was the only aberration in a first half that was completely dominated by the home side; defensively they were a largely untroubled aside from the occasional foray by Luis Suarez. In fact, they should have had a second goal deep into injury time, when the Liverpool defenders got in each other’s way leaving Juan Mata in the clear on the edge of the box. He could have taken a touch and moved closer to the goal, but instead chose to shoot from 18 yards and blazed over.
Chelsea started off the second half in the same vein as they had finished the first and quickly got into their rhythm with the trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar running the show. The home side were awarded a free kick in the 57th minute when Oscar was deemed to have been unfairly challenged by Glen Johnson. Torres did well to flick on a header goalwards from the resulting free kick, but Reds keeper Brad Jones was equal to the task and showed good reactions to clear the ball away. From the ensuing melee in the box, Mikel found himself unmarked barely six yards from goal but his kick only caught air as Liverpool survived.
In the 64th minute, Mata played a great diagonal ball to release Bertrand on the left who put in a low cross, but it was just beyond the reach of the outstretched Torres. Four minutes later, Jones denied Chelsea again when he got enough of a hand on a Mata free kick to see the ball run out of play of the prowling Mikel.
For all their dominance however, Chelsea had not put the game away and were made to pay in the 73rd minute. Carragher did well to flick on a header towards the far post from a Suso corner, leaving Suarez with the simplest of headers to draw the game level. Ramires was guilty of poor marking this time, and Liverpool now found themselves with a chance to get something out of a game in which they had been well outplayed.
The equalizer seemed to spur Liverpool and in the 84th minute, Steven Gerrard picked out Raheem Sterling on the right with an incisive ball. The seventeen year old’s cross found Suso, but the substitute’s attempt lacked both conviction and direction. A few minutes later, Petr Cech had to be alert to foil Suarez after Jose Enrique’s through ball had put the Uruguayan clear on goal. In the last minute of injury time, Enrique had an attempt saved by Cech after good work from Sterling on the right.
There was no time left for late drama however as the clock wound down on an entertaining encounter to leave both teams with a share of the spoils. Needless to say, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers would have left the stadium the happier of the two managers, while Roberto Di Matteo will consider this outcome as two points dropped.