By Kevin Koczwara
Liverpool was suppose to just roll over for Chelsea like it did for Blackpool and Northampton at Anfield earlier this year, but it didn’t. Liverpool played with a passion and will to win that has been missing for much of the season to upset English Premier League reigning champions and current leaders Chelsea.
The Red’s boss hasn’t had an easy time getting Liverpool on the right track or living up to the fans’ high expectations. Just a few weeks ago the team was in the relegation zone, but now, after beating Chelsea, the Reds are in ninth place, just two points behind fifth place Newcastle and only five points behind Manchester City.
Both of Liverpool’s goals came in the first half and courtesy of the one man all Liverpool fans were hoping would show up for the monumental match with the top team in the English Premier League: Fernando Torres. Torres had scored one goal in eight previous matches and Chelsea had allowed just three all season, but Chelsea hasn’t faced an striker like Torres when he is having a good day. The Spanish striker had one of those days the Anfield crowd has come to expect, and to be fair to Chelsea, no one could have stopped Torres on this day.
“It was a very good first half performance. I thought Chelsea played well in the second half but we stayed firm and thanks to Pepe Reina and the crossbar we kept our clean sheet and had chances ourselves,” added Hodgson after the game while speaking to Sky Sports.
If it weren’t for Hodgson’s Spanish contingency it would have been a different story for Hodgson and company as Reina made a number of key saves and Torres netted his two goals. If Liverpool had slipped again after winning three-straight in all competitions, Hodgson might be out on the street this week looking for work like me.
For Chelsea, this loss isn’t detrimental, but it does end an eight-game winning streak over the other members of the ‘big four’ in England. The Blues still hold a two-point lead over Manchester United and a five-point lead over Arsenal and Manchester City. Carlo Ancelotti will be pleased that Chelsea does not have a Champions League or Cup match this week as his team looks rebound next weekend with a home match at Stamford Bridge against Fulham.
Thoughts and Observations
- Liverpool striker/midfielder Dirk Kuyt played for the first time in a month and contributed to the first goal with the pass over the top of Chelsea’s defense to Torres in the box.
- The play of Lucas Leiva in the midfield for Liverpool has to be noted. The Brazilian midfielder has been under much criticism since joining Liverpool, but against Chelsea he dominated the midfield and contained one of the best attacking midfielders/strikers in Flourent Malouda for much of the game. Leiva even showed that he can make forward passes and he can break out on the counter when he has the opportunity, things he has been scrutinized about before.
- Martin Kelly made the biggest start of his young. The 20-year-old filled in for England international Glen Johnson who was a late scratch. Kelly didn’t maraud forward like Johnson, but he did show the ability to defend, something Johnson has not been willing to do this year on a regular basis. Kelly showed he can play with the big boys and proved he deserves more playing time when Johnson is out of the line up.
- Despite Chelsea’s scoring record in league play this year (27 goals in 11 games), the Blues are still looking for someone to fill in for the injured Frank Lampard in the center of the midfield attack. Michael Essien had been doing a fine job, but he had to be scratched because of a toe injury. Lampard has a knack for timely goals for Chelsea. More than one occasion Liverpool were unable to clear the ball cleanly in the second half and Reina was forced into point blank saves, but one has to believe that Lampard might have finished those chances because he has done it so many times before.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at email@example.com.