I'm not sure what to say about this match. I'm not wholly unhappy with the result. We're more than capable of winning the second leg 2-0 or 1-0 and go to PKs, but the thing I'm most disappointed in is our tactics. Zenden touched the ball as much in this match as he has all season and though he didn't turnover the ball much, most of the time it resulted in nothing.
We failed miserably to utilize the whole field, especially the right side, and that allowed Chelsea to concentrate on the left and the middle. It was pretty clear Steven Gerrard forgot that was where he started. He kept crowding the middle and you could tell it was annoying Xabi and to some extent, Mascherano. Speaking of Masch, he clearly was a none factor.
Not starting Pennant was a mistake. Arbeloa was almost forced at times to come up and play the wing, leaving the right wide open defensively, while the left and middle were congested, especially when Bellamy was on. When Crouch came in, the only good it did was open up the left more, but without the use of the right, it mattered little. By the time Pennant made his debut, it was too late.
Defensively we were okay. Agger marked Drogba well and frustrated him throughout. I'm not sure how Drogba didn't get a yellow card for his classless behavior of hair pulling and constant flops. It was pathetic. Somehow I think Sissoko might have been better than Mascherano, but that kind of speculation is a waste of time. Carragher came up big when needed and Arbeloa was everywhere.
The man of the match really comes down to four players for me: Gerrard, Zenden, Agger, and Reina. I still don't know how Cech stopped Gerrard's shot, but kudos to him. Reina made a couple of great saves and prevented the result from being worse than it actually was, so if I had to give it to anyone, it'd be him.
The most disappointing performance went to Riise. This was one of the games where I wouldn't have minded him blasting away a few times, but his only effort was a botched shot from the top left of the box and a girlish shot from 35-yards out. The problem is we can't take him out because there's no one to put there. If we had Finnan, we could have moved Arbeloa over to the left.
Like I said, I'm not all that disappointed with this result. It obviously would have been better to get an away goal, but I'm more than confident we can prevail in the second leg, I just hope Rafa takes a different approach. We may have dominated possession but the ref was clearly on Chelsea's side, there's no way we committed ten more fouls then them and I still can't get over all the flopping by Drogba, Lampard, and company, but what'd I expect?
I'm sure Mourinho's post game conference will be how little ole Chelsea beat the Liverpool juggernaut at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Next up, Portsmouth.