Chelsea defeat an important lesson that Rodgers’ Liverpool must learn from

Liverpool lost their first league game of 2014 yesterday - ending a magnificent 16 game unbeaten spell in the Premier League.

After seeing so many teams blown away by Liverpool at Anfield, Mourinho opted for an ultra-defensive strategy at Liverpool - and though the reds enjoyed the lions share of possession they were simply unable to get through the wall of blue.

A first half slip from Steven Gerrard allowed Demba Ba to open the scoring.  It was remarkable misfortune for Liverpool - and a goal against the run of play that Chelsea eagerly snatched at.

Without this goal, you couldn't even see much sign of Chelsea attempting the counter-attack.  The game could well have panned out differently if the second half had begun on level terms.  And the difference the one point a draw could have given may, ultimately, turn out to be crucial.

Although Mourinho was hailed as a tactical wizard  Brendan Rodgers's response was right, and wrong, with some parts of his post-match assessment.

10 men behind the ball is easy / but only if they're very good players

Rodgers said it was 'easy' to set teams up to defend like Chelsea did.  This statement becomes more factually correct the better your players.

LFC's big problem down the years has been 'beating the little teams' at Anfield.  Teams who come looking for the draw and get nosebleeds when they cross our half-way line.

This season the reds have normally demolished teams employing this strategy - simply because Liverpool have much better attacking players.

When it comes to the better sides however we find these teams usually come looking to win football games.  Arsenal and Man City came to Anfield looking for a win, and got beat.  Chelsea came looking for the draw, and won.

Rodgers: I would never play that way / you may have to

The next question batted away by Rodgers was whether he would ever play football like that - to which he responded with a dismissive 'What do you think?'.

Unfortunately for Liverpool and Rodgers, if the club are to develop further and continue the upward trajectory then the reds must add winning, or even drawing, ugly into their locker - especially against the better teams.  The small matter of the Champions League returns to Liverpool FC next season.

There could well be times where an away draw is a fantastic result - there could even be times at Anfield when the avoidance of an away-goal are the key focus of a game.

Chelsea won with a second string XI - however it was still a more expensively assembled team than the one that Liverpool have had to continue with for most of the season.  Beyond the ideal first eleven - Liverpool look weak.  It wasn't Iago Aspas's fault that he was handed the number 9 shirt - but you have to ask the question who was scouting the player?  But more worryingly where was Aspas's cameo's throughout the season.  When we were leading 4-0,5-1 etc in all these matches why he was not given 10/15 minutes.

With such a lack of involvement what was he seriously expected to do in the last 10 minutes against Chelsea.  Kolo Toure would arguably have rattled the cage of Chelsea's defenders more as a target man.

Brendan Rodgers has made massive improvements to Liverpool's football this season after a disappointing first season in charge.  Liverpool are involved in their first title race for 5 years and can still ensure they require Man City to beat them on goal difference by recording two more wins.

But lessons must be learned over the summer about Chelsea's victory.  Liverpool are a very good side - but the players are not of Guardiola's Barcelona vintage.

Next year they will be unlikely to succeed solely based on their single-minded attacking philosophy when we play on the continent and to wiser and more fearful opposition in domestic competitions.

Less of the 'top teams' will come to Anfield looking for a win next year.  We need to be prepared.

Liverpool remain top of the league.  We go again.

4 comments on
Chelsea defeat an important lesson that Rodgers’ Liverpool must learn from

  1. Liv simply did not have a plan to counter the defensive strategy of Chelsea, they were outwitted on their attacking game plan….. All we could do was move the ball around from centre to left then back to centre again with the result of loosing the ball in all those manoevre. Why did the striker not take pot shots and hope for a mistake by the Chelsea defender ? they did try that towards the end of the game, but alas! Too late!

  2. It’s hard to be critical after we have been unbeaten for 16 matches. Chelsea got incredibly lucky with Gerrard’s slip – but I think second half we ran out of ideas. Hopefully next season we will have players on the bench who can offer something different.

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