Nov 11, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT
When Roberto Di Matteo talks about Liverpool being a bogey team, he’s alluding to days like these. Chelsea dominated play for most of the match, but unable to generate enough quality chances, the home side left the game to be drawn late. When Luis Suárez headed home a Jamie Carragher flick on in the 73rd minute, Chelsea was left with one win in seven versus Liverpool, the Blues drawn 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.
The result, however, will be overshadowed by the health of John Terry. The Chelsea captain, who opened the game’s scoring in the 20th minute with his 50th career goal, left the match in the 40th minute with a major injury to his right leg. Ramires, in pursuit of Suárez, shoved the Liverpool attacker from behind, the Uruguayan falling into the front of Terry’s lower leg. Foot planted, Terry had no choice but to absorb Suárez’s weight. He immediately called for help and was eventually stretchered from the field.
Man of the Match: It’s a Liverpool match, they didn’t lose, and they scored. Odds are Luis Suárez was the game’s best player.
It wasn’t quite as obvious today as usual, but Suárez was still the Reds’ only real scoring threat. The focus of Chelsea’s defense all day, Suárez was his typical relentless self. His efforts were rewarded in the 73rd minute, Carragher’s header leaving his teammate with an open goal.
Threesome of knowledge: What we learned
Rodgers makes the right changes with his formation.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers started with a three-man defense, bringing Jamie Carragher into the team to play between Andre Wisdom and Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson pushed to wing back positions. The formation had the benefit of getting Liverpool’s best players on the field (the team’s struggled all season trying to find an attacker to join Suárez and Raheem Sterling), but with Chelsea dominating, Rodgers switched after 60 minutes.
It was worth a try, though. Based on the names on the team sheet, it was worth seeing if Johnson and Enrique could do enough to justify sacrificing an attacker and flipping the midfield (inverting its triangle). When it didn’t work, Rodgers switched, and Liverpool eventually scored.
Liverpool’s midfield needs to create more chances.
No matter the formation — 4-3-3 or 3-4-2-1 — Liverpool’s three-man midfield must generate more chances. With the team regularly dominating possession, there’s no reason not to. While the team is short of strikers (Suárez the only man on the team capable of leading the attack), the Steven Gerrard-Joe Allen-Nuri Sahin midfield is not even generating chances for the Reds’ wide attackers, let alone themselves.
On Sunday, Liverpool crafted only two through balls for Suárez and Sterling, only one of which came from the midfield (Gerrard). Despite most of the possession and 507 completed passes, Liverpool’s attack remained dormant.
Chelsea’s swoon continues.
Be talked about it mid-week after Chelsea’s performance against Shakhtar. This run has all the hallmarks from Chelsea’s annual swoon. Liverpool may be a bogey team, but Chelsea has enough talent to break that duck. Instead, they dropped to third in the Premier League.
Packaged for takeaway
- Pepe Reina is still out, injured. After his understudy, Brad Jones, put in another decent day, there’ll be increased talk about whether the Spanish international should be sold.
- A strong day from Eden Hazard meant the attacking trio of Hazard, Oscar, and Juan Mata performed to their normal level. Unfortunately, Chelsea got little from the other three players who could contribute to the attack. Deep midfielders Ramires and John Obi Mikel failed to contribute, while Fernando Torres continues to underperform against his former club.
- David Luiz missed today’s game with a tonsillitis. When he returns, Chelsea will be facing a surprising depth issue in central defense. While the trio of Luiz, Gary Cahill, and Branislav Ivanovic is as good as any in the league, Ivanovic is the first choice right back. Expect Cesar Azpilicueta (who started on Sunday) to become a more permanent part of the back line’s rotation.
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