A win at Anfield is always immensely satisfying. Even though Liverpool have their fair share of troubles at the moment, it was never going to be easy to come away with a victory today. The Reds have a lot of pride, and in front of their home fans, they would make it as difficult as possible. And they sure did.
Early on, we struggled to gain control of the game, and Liverpool were enjoying far too much space in midfield. Ramires was chosen ahead of Willian for this one, but the attempt to have a man over in the middle of the park wasn’t seeming to work. And with the game just 9 minutes old, we fell behind. Emre Can was given far too much room to run into and his long-range effort took a deflection off Gary Cahill and wrong-footed Thibaut Courtois. This was the first time since September that we had conceded first in a game, and a response was required.
It came 5 minutes later, with Cahill making amends with a goal at the other end. This was only the third time this season that we had conceded first, and on each occasion, we’ve hardly been behind for long. The rest of the half was all Chelsea. Eden Hazard had two great opportunities but was thwarted by Glen Johnson on both occasions. We went in level, but knowing that we had Liverpool firmly on the ropes.
The second period started in similar fashion, with Nemanja Matic dominating midfield with another monstrous performance. After a prolonged spell of pressure without any result, the goal finally arrived, and it was, surprise surprise, Diego Costa. The Spaniard smashed home his 10th of the season, a goal that would turn out to be the winner. The afternoon was soured later on, as he picked up his 5th yellow card of the season, which means a suspension for the next game.
We defended deep from then on and the home side came knocking at the door trying to find an equaliser. The solidarity and composure in our defending this season though, has been exceptional. Even when we’re conceding possession and are seemingly under pressure, we hardly look like conceding. Every ball that came into the box was headed away, every final pass was intercepted. Liverpool had a strong shout for a penalty when Cahill handled Gerrard’s shot, and I must admit, we were lucky to get away with it.
On the whole, the performance was fantastic, and it was a job well done. We’re now done with trips to Manchester City, Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool and find ourselves 4 points clear at the top. Southampton, who are surprise entrants at second place, are likely to fade away soon. Our nearest and most probably challengers are Man City, who are 8 points behind.
Talks of an unbeaten season have been rubbished by Jose Mourinho, but after today, I ask the question – ‘Who can beat us?’. I know that an off-day will come at some point or the other, but with the amount of quality we have in every area of the pitch, we’re likely to emerge victorious in games where we don’t play well either.
For now, I’ll just enjoy another win. With the international break coming up, there’s not going to be another one for a couple of weeks (at least).