Liverpool struck gold yesterday with a comfortable 2-0 victory against a lacklustre Chelsea side. A devastating Fernando Torres brace before the interval proved the difference between the two sides and meant that our lead at the summit has been cut to two points.
Chelsea started the game without the influential Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba. In the early stages of the first half the inexperienced midfield trio of Ramires, Yuri Zhirkov and Mikel struggled to get a foothold on proceedings allowing Steven Gerrard the freedom he rarely enjoys when Essien is on the pitch. Livepool’s eleven included a first Premier League game of the season for right-back Martin Kelly and a return to the side for Dirk Kuyt, often the Blues’ tormentor. It was Kuyt who set up Torres’s first with a neat pass that split Terry and Cole and allowed the Spaniard to calmly dink the ball over Cech.
Chelsea had a decent amount of possession but precious little of it came anyway near Pepe Reina’s goal and in the first half a Salomon Kalou header, easily saved by Liverpool’s other Spaniard, was all we had to show in a tame first half performance, even worse than the previous week’s at Blackburn. Liverpool, roared on by a bubbling home crowd, belied a team which has spent so long in the bottom three and lost at home to Blackpool last month. A second Liverpool goal arrived shortly before the interval. Ashley Cole went on an ill-advised run and was soon dispossessed by Raul Meireles. He quickly picked out Torres. Despite the tight angle he fired gloriously past Cech, his sixth Anfield goal in five games against Chelsea. It was a timely reminder to those who had started to doubt his ability.
Carlo Ancelotti replaced Kalou with the feverish Didier Drogba at the interval in attempt to spark the Blues into life. At first little changed but soon Chelsea showed some signs of improvement. An excellent Cole cross following a good build-up picked out Ramires but the surging Brazilian could only head over from six yards out. Soon after Zhirkov brought the best out of Reina who tipped his powerful shot wide, before excellent Drogba work found Malouda yards out but despite a good connection the ball could only hit Reina and somehow stayed out.
By now it was all Chelsea but Liverpool came close to adding a third when Kuyt’s shot was brilliantly diverted wide by Cech after a corner hadn’t been cleared. Chelsea pressed and pressed, introducing Jose Bosingwa and Daniel Sturridge to add extra attacking impetus to an already gung-ho line-up. But the goal would not come. Anelka found a way past Reina but the ball could only slip under his grasp and on to the crossbar, summing up Chelsea’s efforts.
So a second loss in the league for Chelsea and despite a much improved second-half performance, the lethargy of the opening forty five eventually proved costly. That and the brilliance of Torres, of course.