Less entertaining but eventually more important in terms of results, this Chelsea-Liverpool clash was going to determine whether Liverpool could mount a serious challenge to the Premiership title this year.
Liverpool had the better chances, they had better individual performers, and for quite some time, they had a numerical advantage as well.
But Liverpool under Benitez have not overcome their problems (foretold in pre-season) and for all their quality they are still some way short of being a ‘finished product’. In contrast, Chelsea’s strength in their experience and that allowed them to play a narrow midfield and still hold Liverpool at bay.
Soup made a few predictions for the match and the one about a ‘controversial’ refereeing decision came true, with an unnecessary red card on Michael Ballack and worse, two-three penalty claims going unnoticed by Mark Riley.
Liverpool’s new signings played well – Kuyt was creative but his final ball let him down several times, Pennant saw a lot of the ball but without Crouch to aim at for most of the match he didn’t do much either. Bellamy ran hard and looked dangerous, but got little service.
Agger, Sissoko and Gerrard were the other notable performers. Agger was a giant at the back, Sissoko was more combative than effective, while Gerrard drifted in and out of the game. He is more talented than is counterpart Lampard, but if you don’t score or create goals all your talent is wasted, and right now Liverpool and Gerrard are wasting their talents (while Chelsea are maximising theirs).
For Chelsea, Essien’s quality in midfield and Drogba’s never-say-die attitude up front shone through. The fact that Essien could take on Alonso and Sissoko on his own and come out in front say a lot about the player. Along with Petr Cech he is Chelsea’s best signing of the Abramovich era, and he will take them very, very far. Boulahrouz had another good game for Chelsea while Ashley Cole did enough to show that everything Wayne Bridge can do, he can do better.
Highlight of the match? Drogba’s Goal.
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool – Drogba scores an amazing goal
Pictures from the match
Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher had no answer to Drogba’s sublime chest down, swivel and volley routine.
Droggie celebrates – Sheva might be better paid but this is the man stealing the show every match for Chelsea.