Liverpool 2 Chelsea 2: Four lessons as Suárez rescues a point for the Reds
Liverpool 2 Chelsea 2: What lessons did we learn after Rafael Benítez's side were denied a win by Luis Suárez at Anfield?
A tale of two tiny Brazilians
There was a distinct Brazilian flavour to Sunday’s clash at Anfield, with Philippe Coutinho and Oscar both impressing in their first seasons in the top flight. But it was Chelsea’s young South American midfielder who made a telling impact with the opening strike on Merseyside. The pint-sized playmaker managed to escape the attentions of Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger to guide a subtle header into the top corner, out of Pepe Reina’s reach. It was cunning effort which was made all the more remarkable by his ability to out-muscle Carragher and direct an attempt on goal. Coutinho, meanwhile, struggled to replicate his recent performances against a finely-tuned Chelsea defence which has found form in recent weeks. The former Inter Milan star was guilty of misplacing passes and never looked comfortable trying to pick a route past Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz.
Sturridge’s stunning impact
Daniel Sturridge was clearly fired up after replacing Coutinho at half-time, with the England international dropped to the bench in recent weeks in a bid to protect his fitness. The 23-year-old, facing his former club, had an instant impact as he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and restored parity. Sturridge came close with a rasping shot from long range which crashed against the crossbar, before scoring his sixth Reds goal. Carragher rolled the ball down the winger and Stewart Downing audaciously back-heeled a pass to Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan then lofted a pass into the air and Sturridge calmly stroked past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. It was a classy finish which appeared to tilt the encounter in Liverpool’s favour before Suárez’s handball and Eden Hazard’s penalty.
Suárez may be one of the most talented players in the Premier League but the Uruguay international has done little to enhance his reputation since arriving in England. The 26-year-old’s tally of 50 goals in 95 appearances makes his move to Liverpool a success but the striker is capable of infuriating lapses in common sense. The South American produced a deft cross to tee up Sturridge for Liverpool’s equaliser before recklessly conceding a penalty to undo his good work. Suárez’s raised hand deflected a cross out of Torres’s path and Eden Hazard dispatched his spot-kick. Worse was to come, as Suárez appeared to bite Branislav Ivanovic after a tangle in the Chelsea area. It was a throwback to his Ajax days, when the Uruguay international was banned for seven games after biting an opponent. In typical Suárez fashion, he had the final say on the clash with a header in the seventh minute of stoppage time to rescue a point. After a glittering season which has seen the striker score 22 Premier League strikers, his goal-scoring feat could now be marred by a moment of stupidity.
Brendan Rodgers revealed he is plotting talks with Carragher at the end of the season and hopes to convince the centre-half to postpone his retirement plans. The 35-year-old has been impressive in the second half of the season as he returned to the first-team in the place of Martin Skrtel. The England international announced he will be retiring at the end of the season after a decorated 16-year career but there is a feeling his recent return to form could help persuade Carragher to continue for another campaign. While the defender’s reading of the game is as sharp as ever, the veteran lacks acceleration and pace – an attribute which would have helped Carragher react quicker to Oscar’s goal. Rodgers needs to buy a centre-half in the summer to pair up with Daniel Agger as Skrtel’s form continues to be patchy but Carragher could be a valuable squad member with his experience.