A poor Chelsea side lost 4-1 away at Liverpool on Tuesday night, with the Anfield crowd witnessing a rare Premier League win for the Reds. A Michael Essien own goal, followed by strikes from Jordan Henderson, Daniel Agger and Jonjo Shelvey gave Liverpool three points, with Ramires netting for the away side.
The recently crowned FA Cup winners Chelsea travelled to the home of the League Cup holders Liverpool in what was either a dead rubber in the Premier League, or the inaugural – and entirely fictional – English Super Cup. After Saturday’s showpiece win, Roberto di Matteo made eight changes to his side, with the likes of Paulo Ferreira, Ross Turnbull and Ryan Bertrand awarded the chance to earn their money, rather than just get paid to train a bit.
Perhaps in part due to the changes, the Blues were disjointed to begin with. Liverpool made the most of their early possession, and Luis Suarez beautifully tricked his way past John Terry early on, only to fire an ugly shot wide of the post.
Chelsea did threaten Pepe Reina in the home goal soon after however, with Branislav Ivanovic powering a header against the woodwork as a couple of Liverpool defenders were sent sprawling hopelessly to the ground by the Serbian’s strength.
But Kenny Dalglish’s outfit made the Blues pay for that miss, and it was Suarez again the catalyst. Starting wide on the right, the Uruguayan slipped his way into the area, going past three Chelsea defenders as he did so, before nicking the ball back into the six-yard box where it bounced off the backtracking Michael Essien into the net.
Just minutes later, it was two, with Chelsea again the masters of their own downfall. A through ball evaded Terry – enduring probably the worst 25 minutes of his entire career – who almost did the splits as he slipped on the sodden turf, and Jordan Henderson ran through with a clear run on goal. He still had to finish past Turnbull, and the much-criticised midfielder did so expertly.
Suarez narrowly lobbed over the bar from a corner – after a finger-tip save from Turnbull – and the resulting set-piece saw a deep cross which found Andy Carroll at the back post. He nodded back across the box where Daniel Agger looped a header over the shoddy Chelsea defence for a third goal inside the first half hour of play.
Turnbull was also tested by Maxi Rodriguez and Carroll, with the former Middlesbrough ‘keeper smartly saving twice. Fernando Torres – playing at the ground he once graced – hit the crossbar from a ridiculously tight angle in a rare Chelsea attack of any substance.
There was just enough time for Liverpool to win a penalty before the half-time whistle, with Ivanovic using his elbow on Carroll for no reason whatsoever. Stewart Downing stepped up, sent Turnbull the wrong way, but hit the post with his shot. 3-0 was bad enough, so many thanks go out to the winger.
Thankfully, the scoreline did change early on in the second-half with Chelsea netting an undeserved way back into the game. Florent Malouda curled in a free-kick from the right-side which was met with nothing but confusion by the Liverpool defenders. Much like the Essien own-goal, the ball found it’s way into the back of the net via a lucky bounce, this time off Ramires, who added to his FA Cup goal with slightly less aplomb this time.
But the comeback wasn’t to be, and just after the hour mark Liverpool extended their lead once again. Bertrand and Turnbull exchanged passes under little pressure, before the goalkeeper attempted a long clearance. The ball went about 25 yards, and straight into the path of Jonjo Shelvey, who hammered a controlled shot straight into an unguarded net.
Romelu Lukaku – on as a substitute for Daniel Sturridge – and Carroll then traded chances, but neither were close to crossing the line, although the Belgian’s header did force a reflex palm away by Reina.
Neither side was able to net again, so Liverpool were able to salvage some pride after a weekend of glory for Chelsea. Back at the start of the 1996/97 season – where the Blues went on to win the FA Cup – Roberto di Matteo was part of a Chelsea side which lost 5-1 at Anfield in a league game. The only consolation from this match was that they only conceded four.