Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool: Analysis, Thoughts + Video Goals
Liverpool march on to the semi-final of the Carling Cup after goals from Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly compounded further misery on Andre Villas Boas and Chelsea.
Guest post by Liverpool Football Blog:
Liverpool march on to the semi-final of the Carling Cup after goals from Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly compounded further misery on Andre Villas Boas and Chelsea. It was however, a match which saw Lucas Leiva stretchered off after sustaining what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
Liverpool lineup: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Coates, Enrique, Henderson, Lucas, Spearing, Maxi, Bellamy, Carroll
Kenny Dalglish went for an almost total reshuffle of his line-up after just two days between the draining City match and this Carling Cup quarter final. Sebastian Coates and Jamie Carragher replaced Agger and Skrtel in central defense, while Martin Kelly came in for Glen Johnson at right back. Jay Spearing took over from Charlie Adam, while Maxi, Carroll and Bellamy replaced Downing, Suarez and Kuyt respectively.
Andre Villas-Boas opted for a youthful line-up with no place for Mata, Terry, Meireles or Drogba. There was however, a place for Liverpool’s old number nine, Fernando Torres in the side.
Chelsea could’ve had a penalty within five minutes but Phil Dowd opted to award Liverpool a free-kick, as David Luis was judged to have made the most of Sebastian Coates’ challenge. After 20 minutes of little goal-mouth action Liverpool did win a penalty after Alex blatantly handballed a Jose Enrique cross that was destined for Andy Carroll’s head.
The Geordie had a chance to take a little bit of the pressure off his shoulders when he stepped up to try and convert it, but unfortunately he drove the ball straight down the middle, allowing Turnbull to easily save. After that there was very little action at either end, with neither goalkeeper having to make many saves.
For Chelsea, that was largely because Lucas made it his personal mission to ensure anyone who came within 10 yards of his side’s penalty box was dispossessed, and boy did he do his job well. For Liverpool, that was largely due to a lack of creativity going forward. The difference between the imagination that Luis Suarez brings compared to the mindless long ball game that comes about when Carroll plays couldn’t be more stark.
Chelsea were forced to make a change before half-time due to injury, bringing on Ramires in place of Josh Mceachran. And Liverpool nearly had to make a change of their own after Lukaku came close to breaking Jordan Henderson’s leg with a shocking challenge, although Phil Dowd let him get away with it, mistakingly booking Ryan Bertrand instead.
It was Lukaku who came closest to scoring for Chelsea with a header that flew just over the bar. Liverpool’s only other chance besides the penalty fell to Jose Enrique who didn’t trouble Turnbull with a speculative effort.
The second half began as the first had with Liverpool’s defense dealing with everything that came their way, with Lucas in particular monstering Chelsea’s attacks. Chelsea hit the bar after a Lampard corner was knocked back in by Malouda, the rebound fell to David Luis, who was only denied by Coates who cleared off the line with his chest.
From then on, the game began to open up and the deadlock was finally broken by Liverpool after Henderson exploited Chelsea’s well documented problems with a high defensive line. Bellamy timed his run to perfection as the young Englishman floated a perfect pass into the huge space behind the Chelsea defense.
David Luis had no choice but to leave Maxi unmarked and try and prevent Bellamy from getting a cross away, but the Welshmen didn’t waste his opportunity, gliding a perfect pass into Maxi’s left foot, allowing the Argentine all the time in the world to pick his spot and put his side ahead.
That’s another one for Maxi to silence his critics and hopefully rightfully earn his spot back in the side on a more permanent basis. Minutes later a Craig Bellamy free kick found Martin Kelly unmarked, who headed his first goal for Liverpool into the back of the net and rubbed salt into Chelsea’s wounds.
Lucas had been putting in a man of the match performance yet again before he got injured and by the looks of it, it’s a serious one. He’s been one of the most integral parts of this side for a long time, and he will be sorely missed while he’s out.
Indeed, after he went off Chelsea began to throw everything forward and it was only a last ditch save from Reina that prevented Torres from scoring with a header. But Liverpool’s defense was too stubborn and as a team they were too good against a Chelsea side that has some serious psychological issues at the moment.
With that win Liverpool are through to semi-final of the Carling Cup and the target of silverware which the owners and manager set out is drawing ever closer to reality. It did however, come at a cost, with Liverpool’s most important player besides Suarez (in my opinion) picking up what looks like a very serious injury.
Liverpool’s defense is maturing with every game, and near perfect performances from Coates and Kelly suggests we have a very bright future at the back. Overall, the side appears a lot closer together than they did at the beginning of the season and the new recruits appear to have settled in really well.
Bellamy had another terrific game, working hard all over the pitch and providing assists for both goals, while Maxi was in the right place at the right time yet again and is showing that he deserves to start in the league at least a little bit more often. Andy Carroll on the other hand continues to struggle but nowhere near as much as Andre Villas-Boas who’s job security is looking more and more perilous with each passing match.
Alas, Liverpool must now find some form of consistency in the league, as they have a history of tapering off against weaker sides.
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