John Terry became the outright highest scoring defender in Premier League history as Chelsea were held by Liverpool in a largely tame 1-1 draw.
There were five changes to the newly-crowned Premier League champions – with the title now clinched, Mourinho could now afford chances to some fringe or youth players. This was reflected by starts for 20-year-old Kurt Zouma, and also Filipe Luis and John Obi Mikel, making their 15th and 16th appearances of the season for Chelsea.
Loic Remy was given a start up front, but the biggest team news came in the form of 19-year-old midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek making his full debut. The England youth star has been making waves in the age-group sides and has been on the fringes of the first team this year and was rewarded for an impressive campaign.
After the pre-match formalities were completed, including the guard of honour which is now of course customary for the new champions, the game had started at a blistering pace and within the opening five minutes we were ahead.
After Willian’s centre was headed behind by Martin Skrtel, the resulting corner from Cesc Fabregas was met expertly by John Terry. Fittingly it was such a trademark John Terry goal that sent him top of the highest scoring defenders list in League history with his 39th strike, one more than former Everton man David Unsworth – a feat all the more impressive when you consider Terry is not a set-piece taker.
The visitors nearly struck level quickly as Philippe Coutinho forced some smart defending from Filipe Luis, but then it could have easily been 2-0 as a raking pass from Fabregas was latched onto by Loic Remy but was stopped by an alert Simon Mignolet.
The game soon lost its pace and broken down into quite a scrappy affair as Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Martin Skrtel all went into the book for unnecessary challenges and in all honesty the game never recovered back to its early exciting tempo, especially following an stoppage for an injured Zouma, who had to leave after just half an hour with discomfort in his knee.
Just before the break, despite little action and little threat to Thibaut Courtois’ goal, Liverpool found themselves level with a goal not too dissimilar to the one they conceded. A free kick near the corner flag was whipped in and skipper Steven Gerrard evaded some slack marking from Mikel to nod home at the back post to muted celebrations as he prepares for life in America after a very disappointing campaign for both himself and the Merseyside club.
That goal had sparked life into the visitors after the break, as Lallana and Coutinho both came very close to taking the lead. Lallana dragged an effort wide before a jinking run from Raheem Sterling played in the Brazil midfielder who could only put it wide.
Smart defending from substitute Gary Cahill denied Adam Lallana once more not long after as Liverpool continued to press on for that winning goal. On the hour mark Ruben Loftus-Cheek was taken off after what was a mightily impressive debut for the young man, not misplacing a single pass all game and looking comfortable and classy in amongst the Premier League champions. Very promising signs indeed as Mourinho may finally look to blood some of the swathes of quality youngster he will have available for next season.
There were half chances for Fabregas, as he scuffed an effort from distance into Mignolet’s grateful arms before seeing a much cleaner strike hit Skrtel. Eden Hazard was denied a chance as a trademark silky run was stopped – taking three defenders to do so.
Steven Gerrard was removed with 12 minutes to play, and received an ovation from all corners of the ground – how much of that was sarcastic from the Bridge faithful however is unclear, as they soon broke into song after his departure referencing that famous slip from last season.
There was still time for Liverpool to nearly nick it at the death as a deflected Coutinho effort nearly squirmed past Courtois who did well to stay alive to it, and Jordan Henderson volleyed wide in the last action of the game as Chelsea maintained unbeaten home League form this season.
Our next and penultimate game of the season sees us travel up to the Black Country to visit West Bromwich Albion next Monday night.