Schwarzer in action against Liverpool
Schwarzer in action against Liverpool

Jose’s troops rocked up the cultural hub of England that is Liverpool with very few giving the west Londoners much hope at all. Suspensions, injuries and fatigue meant that for the second successive game the blues had to field a heavily patched up eleven to face a league leading opponent in fine form. Chelsea were the last team to inflict a league defeat on the Merseysiders but since then, Liverpool had gone from strength to strength. The team selection consisted of those that cannot feature in the Champions League semi final second leg, additionally Thomas Kalas was making his first Premier League start and Demba Ba was leading the attack. Sturridge’s fitness issues meant that he was on the bench for Liverpool. Coutinho and Sterling provided the support for Suarez at the pinnacle of the home sides’ attacking threat.

Chelsea started the match pressing with lots of energy in the midfield and looked for Ba to hang on to the ball as much as possible. The Blues however did not press the ball with their back line at all. Liverpool gradually increased the tempo in the first half and it seemed that crosses might bring joy in the absence of Terry. There was a few instances where panicked clearances came to the rescue and it did seem only a matter of time before a golden opportunity came along. A scramble round the box found its way to Suarez who crossed for Sahko who leant back and screwed a right footed effort over the bar. Despite Liverpool’s territorial dominance and stranglehold of possession, the small number of chances in the first half were fairly evenly distributed. There was a feeling that a blunder would be needed to open the scoring and it happened to be Steven Gerrard that duly obliged. An innocuous passing exchange between Sahko and Gerrard resulted in the skipper losing his footing and presenting Ba with a one on one opportunity. The Senegalese striker rolled up to Mignolet and tucked it under the helpless Belgian. Chelsea had opened the scoring during time allocated because of their own time wasting.

The hosts returned from the break with a few half chances that were batted away by the resilient Chelsea defence. The final ball evaded Liverpool every time they got into a decent position and Schwarzer was solid whenever he was called upon. A cracking first time volley from Allen brought the best out of the 41 year old. Chelsea’s opportunities were few and far between but the home side began to leave lots of space by pressing for an equaliser. Schurrle cut in from the left and strongly tested Mignolet down to his left after carrying the ball a long way. Former blue Sturridge joined the action on the hour mark to replace Lucas as Liverpool’s shape grew top heavy. Mourinho responded by swapping the carded Salah for Willian. All afternoon Rodgers’ side could not get in behind and they had to keep crossing from deep as the contest grew older. Cahill came on for the closing stages as the Chelsea goal came under siege. He replaced the tireless Schurrle and Liverpool switched to a back three when Aspas joined the fray – Rodgers seemingly looking to outnumber the blues in their own penalty area. One of Liverpool’s better chances came in stoppage time as Suarez was denied by Schwarzer’s acrobatics. Chelsea’s second goal was all about the substitutes. Aspas’ horrendous corner set Willian on his way. Suddenly it was the Brazlian and Torres clean through against Mignolet. Inevitably Willian walked the ball into an empty net after Torres had drawn the keeper away and squared. Cue dramatic celebrations.