Team News


The biggest news was John Terry’s return as captain after sitting out the win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard missed out again with a hamstring and calf problem respectively, whilst David Luiz missed the game through tonsillitis.

Branislav Ivanovic moved to Centre Back, with Cesar Azpilicueta starting at Right Back.

Observations

Chelsea’s inability to kill this game off in the 1st half came back to haunt us, as our poor recent record against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge continued.

Once Liverpool equalised John Terry’s 50th Chelsea goal, they were arguably the side more likely to go and win the game.

In the past 2 seasons, the clocks going back have heralded a sharp downturn in our Premier League form (it is now 3 games without a win).

From leading the Premier League by 4 points 3 games ago, we’re now 3 points behind Manchester United.

West Bromwich Albion away next Saturday is now a very big game indeed. Not as big as Juventus away perhaps but the snowball of momentum has come to an abrupt end in the Premier League and needs to start moving again.

1st half

Chelsea started well enough. Oscar shot over on 5 minutes from the inside left channel after a 1-2 with Eden Hazard.

Quality was in short supply as the teams huffed and puffed but struggled to control possession.

Ivanovic fired over and wide after a free kick was touched off to him. Soon after, Torres’ persistence won us a corner.

Mata’s remarkable recent record for goals and assists continued, whipping in a corner from the right, which was headed home by an unmarked John Terry, who celebrated with gusto.

Whilst Chelsea looked comfortable enough, penetration was hard to come by. On 26 minutes, a Hazard break led to a Torres shot being saved and from the follow up, Hazard failed to hit the target: he should have done better.

Liverpool had fired barely a shot in anger when John Terry went down on 34 minutes in agony as his knee buckled after a coming together with Suarez. This would become one of the turning points of the game, as Terry had kept Suarez in his pocket throughout his time on the pitch.

An MRI scan is scheduled for Monday to determine the extent of the knee ligament damage Terry sustained.

After a 5 minute delay, Gary Cahill replaced Terry. In the 5 minutes of added time, came the second turning point of the game.

Azpilcueta’s throw ended up at Mata’s feet, who with the beating of Carragher had a clear run on goal. Normally so assured in these situations, he shot over the bar from just inside the penalty area when he could have gone on and chipped the keeper or found the corner of the net. It was a big miss and ultimately punished.

2nd half

A half of 2 halves. For the first 22 minutes, Chelsea were comfortable and it looked inevitable that they would score a second goal and see out the victory.

Allen was booked for a foul on Torres and Mata’s Free Kick was cleared for a corner.

A neat build up finished with a shot from Mata on the right apex of the penalty area that fizzed just past Jones’ upright.

Johnson was next to enter Howard Webb’s book for a foul on Oscar.

From a Hazard Free Kick, Torres’ header was well saved by Jones. As he chased the ball along the touchline he appeared to be tripped by Gerrard who stayed down.

After the ball was recycled, pandamonium reigned in the Liverpool penalty area. Mikel had an airshot from 6 yards and Mata’s shot was charged down. The ball was still not properly cleared as Webb blew to allow treatment for Gerrard, to the crowd’s dismay.

The highlight of a scrappy few minutes was a crunching but fair tackle on Gerrard (miraculously recovered), by Ramires.

Mata’s volleyed pass into Bertrand’s path was crossed in but could not find Torres to provide the finishing touch.

Gerrard saw yellow for a crude tackle on Oscar, leading to the third turning point of the match. From Mata’s Free Kick, Jones’ weak punch fell to Mikel but his instinctive prod was wide.

Ramires’ shot well over after good possession led to a half clearance finding him 25 yards out.

The Liverpool equaliser came on 72 minutes. Carragher’s flick on from a corner found Suarez who planted a free header past Cech. The body language of the Chelsea players reflected the dejection of the crowd.

With 18 minutes to go plus stoppage time, there was plenty of time to find a winner but the self belief to do so, ebbed away as the minutes passed.

Oscar, Hazard and Mata combined on the break but the move came to nothing and a Bertrand break and cross was easily cut out.

Liverpool were doubling up on Azpilicueta with Johnson (switched from Right Back) and Enrique giving him an examination that, under the tutelage of Ivanovic, he largely passed.

Moses replaced Oscar for the last 15 minutes. After Mikel was booked, a blatant dive from Suarez went unpunished. Not for the first time.

Sturridge replaced Torres with 9 minutes to go but failed to make an impact. Ivanovic headed over from Mata’s corner before Hazard won another as pressure was sustained. He took it himself but it came straight back to him. Cutting in, he sliced his shot wide of the far post with our last chance of the afternoon.

In the 4 minutes of added time, Liverpool came closest to snatching all 3 points.

After possession was given away, Suarez waited patiently before finding Enrique whose shot from inside the area was turned away by Cech for a corner in the last meaningful action of the game.

Positives

John Terry looked imperious on his all too brief return.

Eden Hazard, though prone to conceding possession was industrious. Ditto Fernando Torres.

Negatives

Another game, another gimme goal conceded. This record is well and truly stuck.

2 points from a possible 9 in the Premier League are at least 4 too few.

When Juan Mata is becalmed, so are we. He had a relatively quiet afternoon, despite being pivotal in our best offensive work.

Why did Marko Marin not get minutes here? Sturridge for Torres was a rare insipid choice from Robbie Di Matteo. Marin for Mata or Hazard would have injected something different.

Moment of the match

John Terry’s goal celebration. 50 goals from Centre Half: great effort.

Carefree.

Follow Chris Davies on Twitter: @chrisdaviescfc

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