Vital Report: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool
Vital Liverpool report on a battling point for the Reds at Stamford Bridge. Luis Suarez proved to be Liverpool's saviour yet again by cancelling out John Terry's header.
Liverpool secured what turned out to be a deserved point at Stamford Bridge today when Luis Suarez headed an equaliser on 73 minutes and denied Chelsea captain John Terry a winning goal.
The visitors started the game reasonably well, without looking overly threatening. Chelsea's good play came in dangerous-looking attacking bursts and good concentration quickly became Liverpool's minimum defensive requirement.
The first big chance of the game fell to the hosts on 6 minutes. Joe Allen dallied in a dangerous position and was subsequently dispossessed, and the ball fell eventually to Eden Hazard, he slipped in Oscar, but the Brazilian ballooned his shot high over the bar.
On 19 minutes, Nuri Sahin received the ball in Liverpool's defensive third and aimed a pass towards Luis Suarez. Howard Webb found himself in a bad position and inadvertently intercepted the Turk's pass. Chelsea gained possession and moved forward as a result, eventually winning a corner.
Juan Mata swung in the corner (his set pieces are eye-wateringly good), John Terry lost Daniel Agger and powered in a free header past Brad Jones.
There was a passage of play after Webb's accidental interception, but the goal wouldn't have happened if it weren't for it. His popularity with Liverpool's fans was already rock bottom, now it will be even worse. However, Liverpool would be better served analysing their defending for the corner because it was horrendous.
Liverpool's response lacked conviction and if anything they looked like conceding again. Fernando Torres had a shot saved by Brad Jones on 27 minutes and it could easily have been a sweet moment against his former club.
On 35 minutes, a sickening clash between Luis Suarez and John Terry left the former England international writhing in agony. His screams were decipherable through TV microphones and the writing was instantly on the wall for Terry. Replays showed that Suarez's accidental fall put his full weight onto Terry's right knee.
The remainder of the half was uncomfortable viewing for Liverpool supporters for different reasons. The away side bossed possession but their play in the final third was so bereft of penetration that Chelsea almost looked content in surrendering possession and relying on their far superior attacking options.
Indeed, they should have doubled their lead in first half injury time when Juan Mata breached Liverpool's rearguard - after an embarrassing defensive calamity when three Liverpool defenders challenged for the same throw-in - and clean through on goal, skied his shot over.
The second half continued in a similar vein and Torres missed another chance to stretch Chelsea's lead on 56 minutes. He aimed a header straight at Brad Jones from an Oscar free-kick and a goalmouth scramble followed. Liverpool were fortunate to stay just one behind.
The Spaniard had another opportunity a few minutes later. Juan Mata aimed a brilliant half-volleyed pass to Ryan Bertrand, he crossed into the box, but Torres could only get a toe to it - credit to Jamie Carragher who done enough to put him off.
Then, on the hour mark, Suso replaced the ineffective Nuri Sahin (the jury is still out on him) and it sparked a sudden awakening in Liverpool. Suso didn't actually perform very well, but his introduction was the perfect tonic from a tactical perspective and he seemed to find and create space for others.
After a spell of gradually increasing pressure, Liverpool went level on the hour mark, and the goalscoring source was entirely predictable (the player who provided the assist was not).
Yes, the goalscorer was that man again, Luis Suarez. Following Suso's corner, he latched onto a flick-on from none other than Jamie Carragher (who replaced the unwell Martin Skrtel in the starting line up) and headed into an empty net. It was probably undeserved at that point in time, but not once taking into account Liverpool's enterprising finish.
The similarities between Suarez's camera shouting celebration and Diego Maradona's similar burst of passion in the 1994 World Cup is remarkable and the Uruguayan is becoming as important to Liverpool as the great man was to the Argentine national side.
The magnificent Suarez completely outshone Fernando Torres yet again (who was substituted on 81 minutes), not a surprise because he is a far better all round footballer, but crucially for Liverpool, his goalscoring record is starting to match the rest of his game.
The team and their travelling supporters were galvanised and Liverpool looked like securing an unlikely winner.
After 88 minutes, Suarez was put clean through on goal by Jose Enrique and in his attempt to round Petr Cech, he scuffed the ball and Chelsea's stopper was able to get a touch and deny an open goal. A great chance for Liverpool.
They weren't finished there however. On 94 minutes, they came even closer to getting a winner via Jose Enrique. Following superb wing play from Raheem Sterling, who cut inside and drifted across the Chelsea box before putting Enrique in on goal, the marauding left-back aimed a well-struck shot towards the near post that was saved well by Cech.
A winner was probably a bit too much to ask.
To say Liverpool rode their luck before their equaliser would be an understatement. But there was plenty to admire in Liverpool's battling qualities and this point should be something to build on. Due to their lowly league position, it was vitally important not to lose and Liverpool are now unbeaten in six Premier League fixtures.
There were some notable individual performances. Raheem Sterling was tireless and a threat to Chelsea throughout. We will never know whether this hard-working performance was a reaction to some negative headlines regarding the youngster's reported wage demands, but whatever the reason, he performed extremely well and will take great confidence from today's encounter.
Jamie Carragher showed that there is life in the old dog yet. There is no question that Carragher will play a bit part role at Liverpool in the longer term, but what a character to have around the dressing room.
His performance on the pitch was battling as usual and he even impressed in his post-match interview. His philosophical outlook should be a lesson to ageing players and with every interview that Carragher takes part in, Liverpool supporters will become more and more convinced that he is manager material.
A home game against Wigan comes next. Let's hope the players role their sleeves up next Saturday and put their home hoodoo straight into the scrapheap - where it belongs. A convincing win should instigate a move up a league table that still provides frustrating viewing, regardless of today's result.
Liverpool's Star Player
Raheem Sterling. At seventeen years of age, his potential is frightening. Let's hope he is at Liverpool Football Club for many years.
Jones, Wisdom, Agger, Carragher, Johnson, Enrique, Allen, Sahin (Suso 60'), Gerrard, Suarez, Sterling.
Click here to read Brendan Rodgers' comments on the match
Click here to see comprehensive match stats from the game
Follow me on Twitter @antonyjlfc
|Not a Vital Liverpool member? It's a 100% free to join and get involved. Plus it only takes a few moments to sign up. Click here to become a member now!|