Anfield was ready for a momentous clash. The nearly kings of last term Liverpool who are struggling played hosts to the would be champions elect of this season.
The Reds were determined and desperate but in the end failed to match the tactics and pace of a well run Chelsea outfit. The visitors looked dangerous and stronger physically, and the talk of a potential ‘Invincibles’ campaign will only increase after this win.
There’s no doubt Liverpool have missed the pace and dribbling skills of Luis Suarez this season, but they’ve also looked thin without Daniel Sturridge, who has missed out a majority of this season due to injury. The Blues, on the other hand, had their best on the field with Courtois, Cahill, Costa, Ramires and Azpilicueta all returning to the starting line-up.
Rodgers’ rearranged side took an early lead when Emre Can’s long-range shot took a decisive deflection off Cahill to leave keeper Thibaut Courtois wrong-footed. Chelsea quickly changed gears and started penetrating the weak Liverpool defense. The advantage from Can’s ninth-minute goal lasted just five minutes as Cahill scored after a scramble from a corner. It wasn’t clear in real time whether the ball had crossed the line, but the Goal Line technology said it did. Costa was turning out to be handful for the Liverpool backline and Eden Hazard penetrated the flimsy Reds’ defense. Chelsea’s greater power was the winning influence in midfield; Matic was a solid shield, effective throughout as Liverpool’s composure appeared to dissolve.
Emre Can 9′: Can’s shot from thirty yards for the top left, but the ball took a huge deflection off Gary Cahill to wrong-foot Thibaut Courtois. It was unlucky for Courtois who would have completely taken care of it if not for the massive deflection.
Gary Cahill 14′: The Blues won a corner conceded by Raheem Sterling. Despite Reds custodian Simon Mignolet having kept out John Terry’s header, carried the ball over the line in trying to keep Gary Cahill’s rebound attempt out; the sensors detected it had crossed the line.
The Blues dominated the second half with great work rate as a team. The intensity at which Jose Mourinho’s men closed down their opponents was amazing as the hosts kept struggling to make the ball stick up-front. Fifteen minutes past half time Liverpool cracked, Diego Costa gave Chelsea a well-deserved lead with an unstoppable effort as the Blues slowly, but surely showed their authority. Steven Gerrard must count himself unlucky after his 25 yard shot struck Cahill’s arm, and the referee chose to ignore it in the 88th minute.
Diego Costa 67′: It all began with a magnificent diagonal ball from Willian to Cesar Azpilicueta who drove down the Chelsea left flank and delivered a cross that Mignolet could only push out into Diego Costa’s path. The striker drilled home an unerring finish.
It was a sobering afternoon for Liverpool and an illustration of how these two teams have gone in opposite directions since they last met in April.Chelsea were superior overall, although Liverpool will complain bitterly they should have had a late penalty when Cahill appeared to handle Steven Gerrard’s shot. It was a match that lived up to it’s pre-game billing and the best team won. It’s hard to see Chelsea failing to win this season’s title, though, of course; there’s a long, long way to go.
Edited By: Tamojit Chakraborty