04 October 2009

Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea

Reina
Johnson Skrtel Carragher Insua
Lucas Mascherano
Kuyt Gerrard Riera
Torres

Goals:
Anelka 60’
Malouda 90+1’

Benayoun’s miss in the third minute of injury time, wide open with his shot just wide of the far post after Chelsea were already two up, adequately sums up the day. It was typical Liverpool/Chelsea for long stretches – nothing like the last meeting at Stamford Bridge – but Liverpool’s two mistakes led to two goals, and they, specifically Torres, couldn’t take the chances at the other end. And now, Liverpool’s lost three of their first eight games and sits six points back. Sigh.

The defenses ruled the opening hour. Chelsea would thrust, Liverpool would repel. Liverpool would come forward and Chelsea would clear. Both sides saw first half spells of pressure after a very back-and-forth opening. Neither could take advantage.

Chelsea’s came for about 10 minutes centered on the half-hour mark, during which the home side had four good efforts at goal. Three were headers – Drogba’s from Anelka’s cross in the 25th, Anelka’s from Essien’s cross three minutes later, and Ballack’s over from a corner in the 34th – while Essien shot too close to Reina in the 35th.

But Liverpool finished the half stronger, and should have opened the scoring through Torres in the 40th. Kuyt was able to cross from the right, and Torres got between defenders for a free header that he could only direct down and at Hilario. Those are the kinds of narrow opportunities that win games like today’s. Five minutes later, Hilario dove well to keep out a devilish 40-yard-plus free kick from Riera, and Skrtel could have had a penalty on the subsequent corner for a push by Drogba. Not that Liverpool can ever expect much from Martin Atkinson. Not since this.

The second half was more of the same for 15 minutes – Gerrard had a couple of half-chances while Reina smothered Ivanovic’s shot from distance – before Anelka struck on the hour mark. Mascherano gave the ball away after Liverpool had retreated into its own half, Chelsea broke, and Drogba was released down Liverpool’s right. He beat Skrtel with his cross, and Anelka got there ahead of Carragher. It was all fairly pathetic after sixty minutes of solid defending, especially seeing the play start because Liverpool went backwards when in Chelsea’s half.

Liverpool pressed for the next thirty minutes, but never took the opportunity they were rarely presented. Benayoun and Babel came on for Riera and Lucas, and the away side had almost all of the possession, with Chelsea’s lone chance coming through a Drogba free kick. And they probably should have equalized in the 80th – Gerrard got the ball in the box from Kuyt, but saw his shot blocked out to Torres. With space and Hilario stranded, the striker scuffed his shot wide of the near post. It was that kind of day, both for Torres and Liverpool.

Chelsea iced it in the first minute of added time after Drogba got around both Carragher and Aurelio (mostly Carragher) to center for Malouda, who beat Reina to the ball. The rest of stoppage time saw the aforementioned Benayoun miss and an excellent Hilario save from Gerrard’s rasping volley, but it was moot by that point.

It’s not sour grapes to say this could have gone massively different. Maybe Liverpool holds on for a 1-0 win if Torres makes direct contact with his header in the 40th. Maybe it’s a respectable 1-1 if he strikes cleanly with ten minutes to play. But football’s a game of inches. Maybe it’s 0-0 at Anfield last season if Lampard’s not harshly sent off before Torres scores two late goals. Maybe Liverpool gets beat at Stamford Bridge if Boswinga doesn’t deflect Alonso’s 10th minute shot. I hate maybes.

Liverpool wasn’t sharp enough and gave away two sloppy goals, but it otherwise wasn’t an awful performance – not a performance that deserves a two-goal defeat. But it’s tight at the top and these games can truly go either way. At the end of the day, despite some decent defending by the center backs and a disciplined display in central midfield, Liverpool didn’t do enough to make the game go in their direction.

There’s an international break to come to terms with – and remedy – this defeat before Sunderland in 13 days.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Today was such a fucking downer. We've seen more of Chelsea than any other team over the past few years, we shouldn't be losing to them like that.

(Faith...in...Rafa...wavering...)

Mike Georger said...

Not sure how I like Riera starting over Yossi. But I didn't see the CL game so idk if that performance had something to do with it.

Defending was better for sure, back to the old pinging balls out of the box before anyone can get near it style, which was nice to see. Just those two damn lapses. Shame the first one was on Masche to get the play going, because he had been everywhere before that. Second one ... well, Carragher should never get pushed off the ball like that.

Shame Sunderland are actually good now because that would be a good game to bust out Agger paired with someone else. Still think Agger has to get the start, but he may be reluctant to go with a completely new pairing.

Stevie still looks somewhat out of sort. Hopefully that will change when Aquaduct starts playing (pllllease be against Sunderland), but the announcers suggested maybe Gerrard should move back into midfield and Kuyt should go in the hole. While I don't think this is what he meant, I wouldn't mind seeing:

Torres
Kuyt
Yossi - Aqua - Stevie
Masche

And please for the love of God everyone get through the internationals without injury, we're due for that kind of crap it seems.

Scott said...

Not that this is on point, but watching Ronaldo and Xabi hug after Ronaldo's first in the CL this week almost made me vomit.

Chris said...

A loss is a loss. But for the first time Masch and Leiva played well together and protected Carra and Skertl. I actually feel like we're rounding into form....

Perhaps blind optimism, but I suggest we beat seven shades of shite out of Man U in a few weeks to make this sting go away...

Mike Georger said...

Scott, a love for money above all else tends to bring people together, I suppose.

bfriel0120 said...

@Georger

My guess is that Riera got the start today because of how he tormented Bosingwa in the corresponding game last season. A shame the result wasn't the same.

extrafattyliver said...

Liverpool didn’t do enough to make the game go in their direction - very accurate assessment of the game.

2:0 was harsh. but i see some positives in this game. we played league leaders in their backyard and for most of the game were trading blow for blow. masch and lucas was tackling everything to free up gerrard. torres would have scored a couple had his touch been better on the day, against very tough defenders in cavalho and terry.

still early days in the league. 3 losses is not that much worse than 3 draws. and these came from chelsea, spurs and villa. the difference between 3 losses and 3 draws are the same as that between a win and a loss. we are in with a good chance provided that we don't draw similar fixtures (stoke x 2, hull, west ham...) as last season.

love to see us get one on united in 3 weeks time.

irfaanfr said...

Defense was good during the first half .I dont want to single out players but we must concentrate defense mistakes we made during the 2nd half...We must improve our game n i hope Yossi starts ahead of Riera nxt match!stamford bridge is a really difficult place to win so im not worry!

Shaun Loh said...

i can see the rationale starting Riera coz of his height when defending setpieces...i thought it was just a lapse of concentration that we lost...and the media didnt disappoint me with their usual over-reaction, but what was Gilet's rant about Rafa for?

by the way thanks for the link to the Martin Atkinson video, i thought it was hilarious.

Mike Georger said...

"And please for the love of God everyone get through the internationals without injury, we're due for that kind of crap it seems."

I'm gonna go slam my junk in a car door for a bit.

nate said...

From what I've read, both Torres and Agger were pulled out of international team training for minor knocks. Nothing too serious it seems.

There is absolutely no reason for Torres to play for Spain (or Gerrard/Johnson for England) with the team qualified for the World Cup anyway. Del Bosque and Rafa seem to get along; let's hope the Spanish coach sees sense.

nate said...

Also, sorry it's been quiet (as usual during international breaks).

I'm trying to come up with a graphic that doesn't suck, and I'm also staying well away from G&H talk (plz plz plz Saudis, and fuck you George is all I'll write).

Hopefully will have new material before the weekend.

Mike Georger said...

Wow I hadn't heard that on Agger. Really starting to worry he's heading into Kewell territory. If he's anywhere near able to play though, he probably will, because of how tight that group is.

If Torres plays, Rafa is going to lose his shit in another rant about how we should get compensated for international injuries, I love those.