Chelsea’s 86 unbeaten league run at home ended today, 4 years and 8 months after it began when Liverpool defeated Scolari’s side thanks to an early goal from Xabi Alonso.
In recent years Liverpool may have camped in their own half to protect the lead, but as the game progressed the reds became even more expansive. Gerrard could have doubled the lead but Cech got fingertips on to a fine 30 yard shot – and in the second half Alonso fired a free-kick which smashed back off the post. With Torres missing, and Keane not fully fit and withdrawn in the second half – Liverpool arguably would have had more. Mascherano lashing a pass across the face of goal when a shot may have been a better choice.
It was February 2004 when Chelsea last lost a home Premiership game. Previous teams that have gone on to land the title failed in their attempts at the Bridge.
A smart move set Liverpool on their way when pressure outside the box led to the ball landing at Alonso’s feet. His shot fired at the Chelsea goal and a slight deflection saw the ball move towards Cech’s feet which, thankfully, we’re flapping. 1-0 to the reds.
Chelsea then had a sustained period of pressure – Benitez furiously telling his players not to defend but to increase the tempo and push the Chelsea back line further back.
If anything has changed about Liverpool in recent times it is the belief that after going 1-0 up, against anybody, home or away, they have the potential for more goals.
Chelsea never really had a clear cut chance – and in the second half the reds should have added more. Keane clearly wasn’t match fit after his mid-week injury and was removed early in the second half. Babel, was playing the lone striker role, and himself could have grabbed a goal with a fine shot on the turn.
The cards were accumulating for both teams – Albert Riera seemingly singled out for attention – the new Anfield winger had the measure of the Chelsea defence for the entire game. John Terry got away with an elbow on Jose Reina, which almost led to an angry exchange.
As the minutes ticked towards the final whistle there will have been little nail-biting amongst Liverpool fans. This is a game we should have won more than 1-0. Yet again Liverpool not playing to their best, but beating a side unbeaten at home for nearly five years.
I bet you can’t wait until we start playing well.
The reds go top three points ahead of Chelsea, and Hull. It’s good to be back.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Alonso, Mascherano, Kuyt (Leiva Lucas 88), Gerrard, Riera (Hyypia 90), Keane (Babel 60). Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Benayoun, Pennant.
Booked: Arbeloa, Gerrard, Mascherano.
Goals: Alonso 10.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa (Sinclair 84), Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Mikel, Kalou (Di Santo 58), Deco, Lampard, Malouda (Belletti 58), Anelka. Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Alex.
Booked: Malouda, Ashley Cole, Deco.
Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).
Liverpool Possession: 37%. Shots: 5 (On target = 2). 113 accurate passes. 26 bad passes.
Chelsea Possession: 63%. Shots 8 (On target = 1). 228 accurate passes. 37 bad passes.