Chelsea 1 Liverpool 2: Lessons from a thrilling encounter
What did we learn from Liverpool's dramatic late victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday?
A clichéd game of two halves
Liverpool were superb in the first half, pressing Chelsea all over the pitch and not allowing the midfield trio of Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Ramires time to settle. And the home side were reluctant to flood forward with the electric pace of Craig Bellamy and Luis SuÃ¡rez a constant threat to the Chelsea back four. But after the interval the Reds retreated into their own half, inviting pressure and they were subsequently punished as Florent Malouda, allowed to roam unchallenged on the edge of Pepe Reina’s area, created an equaliser before Liverpool snatched victory in the 86th minute.
David Luiz remains Chelsea’s weakest link
André Villas-Boas partnered David Luiz with John Terry, leaving Alex out of the squad, while Branislav Ivanovic shuffled to right-back. And while Luiz provides an added dimension going forward, he looked a constant liability in the Chelsea rearguard and was fortunate to escape unpunished when his outrageous attempt to dribble the ball past four Liverpool players in his own half failed miserably. Chelsea have struggled to find a suitable replacement for Ricardo Carvalho, who left for Real Madrid in 2010, and Luiz is certainly not the answer – he possesses none of his compatriot’s tactical intelligence.
Maxi RodrÃguez continues scoring record
Kenny Dalglish handed Maxi RodrÃguez his first start of the season and the decision paid dividends, with the Argentina international popping up at the end of a sweeping Liverpool move to put the visitors ahead after 34 minutes. It was RodrÃguez’s eighth goal in six league games for the Reds and the 30-year-old was a vital cog in Dalglish’s side on Sunday, closing down Chelsea’s fragile back four at every opportunity, while his link up play with SuÃ¡rez was a constant threat.
Fernando Torres was confined to the bench as Villas-Boas started with Didier Drogba and then turned to Daniel Sturridge in search of an equaliser at half-time ahead of the Spanish striker. When Torres sealed his record £50m move from Anfield to Stamford Bridge last January it appeared to be a step towards finally satisfying his appetite for domestic success. However, his struggle to find form, coupled with Chelsea’s defensive woes, have left Villas-Boas’ side considerably off the pace – 12 points to be precise. At the final whistle the Liverpool supporters taunted Torres as they celebrated ex-Blue Glen Johnson’s stunning 86th-minute winner. And former Reds midfielder Raul Meireles couldn’t prevent Chelsea’s third defeat in four seasons at Stamford Bridge.
How much are Charlie Adam’s set-pieces really worth?
Sir Alex Ferguson famously valued Charlie Adam’s ability to deliver a deadly set-piece at “£10m alone”. However, Adam has disappointed so far this season and Sunday was no exception. In the first half he failed to beat the Chelsea defender at the near post twice in 10 minutes. Craig Bellamy was subsequently put on corner duty after the interval. Although the 25-year-old enjoyed his best Liverpool performance since joining from Blackpool in the summer at Stamford Bridge, Dalglish will be keen for midfielder to recreate some of the set-piece prowess that earned glowing those reports from Sir Alex last term.