Chelsea delivered a hammer blow to Liverpool’s title hopes by inflicting a 2-0 win at Anfield to snap the home side’s 11 match unbeaten run in the Premier League. Demba Ba opened the scoring for the travelling side, taking advantage of Steven Gerrard’s slip in first half stoppage time, before substitute Willian secured the win with a tap in into an empty net at the very death.
Here are the three observations from Anfield
Liverpool’s inexperience cost them dearly:
We had earlier reported on how Chelsea’s experience in staying afloat in the most testing conditions would effectively see them through the tricky encounters in the business end of the season. Liverpool started the better of the two sides but it wasn’t the kind of free flowing football that the Reds have shown in the past few weeks. Chelsea were willing to sit back and absorb pressure and would try to hit the home side on the counter.
The Reds had the majority of the possession throughout the first half but they hardly had anything to show for it. At one time, Raheem Sterling has completed more passes than the entire Chelsea team, but Mark Schwarzer was rarely troubled between the sticks. As the game grew on, the home side’s frustration was clearly etched but credit goes to Chelsea on how they negated the trio of Coutinho, Sterling and Suarez up front.
Jose Mourinho’s strategy very effective:
With the second leg of the Champions League semi final against Atletico lined up in midweek, Mourinho had clearly stated that he would field a weakened squad at Anfield.
Ashley Cole was recalled to the side at left back with Branislav Ivanovic and young Thomas Kalas starting in the heart of the defense. Chelsea played lined up in their 4-3-3 formation but it turned out be a cautious 4-5-1 approach. Rather than terming it as ‘parking the bus’ in footballing terms its known as catenaccio in Italy.
Mourinho’s Italian DNA maybe be nerazzurro but he seems like a disciple of legendary Milan coach Nereo Rocco in his tactics
— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) April 27, 2014
Nemanja Matic was at the heart of the tactical setup which dates back to the 1960’s which was used effectively by Italian manager Nereo Rocco during his tenure at AC Milan.
The Serbian had a superb game tactically, pulling the strings in midfield, with his discipline in the middle of the park and the elegance with which he broke down Liverpool’s attacks very impressive.
It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that as sitting defensive midfielder, Claude Makalele would have proud of Matic’s ball retention and recycling possession from today’s sunny afternoon at Merseyside.
Chelsea’s defensive discipline shows the other side of the game:
The young Tomas Kalas time and again negated Liverpool’s talisman Luis Suarez, with John Obi Mikel asked to play as the sweeper just ahead of Ivanovic alongside Matic. Chelsea were resilient throughout the game, maintaining their defensive discipline and always being compact in shape.
Their outlet up top was Demba Ba who won most of his aerial duels (11/16) against Skrtel and Sakho from Mark Schwarzer’s excellent distribution. The Senegalese successfully completed 16 out of his 36 attempted passes but most importantly took advantage of Steven Gerrard’s slip to slot home at a crucial time.
Liverpool will be kicking themselves at the end of the clash but it was a Jose Mourinho-esque win rather than anything. Manchester City are arguably the biggest winners from Anfield and at the time of writing Manuel Pellegrini’s men are well on course to beat Crystal Palace as they lead by 2-0 at Selhurst Park.
What do you think? How bad a defeat will this turn out to be for Liverpool?