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Liverpool 1, Chelsea 2: First Thoughts

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Liverpool succumbed to a superior Chelsea side to lose three games in the space of a week.

Alex Livesey

liverpool blog fc sbn

Liverpool 1 Can 9'
Chelsea 2 Cahill 14', Costa 67'

  • Emre Can was the only player of the surprise starters in the away tie against Real Madrid who kept his place as Dejan Lovren, Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, and Mario Balotelli returned to the line-up in Saturday's early kick-off against Chelsea. A win for Liverpool would banish criticism from the media and keep Brendan Rodgers' side in touch with the top four until the late November tie against Crystal Palace after the international break. Ramires was the interesting selection for Chelsea on the right to probably counter the raids on Alberto Moreno. 

  • Can and Balotelli started brightly, and it was the German youngster who scored the game's first goal outside the area with the help of a deflection from Gary Cahill. Chelsea reacted strongly and immediately put pressure on the home side. Within 5 minutes Chelsea were level with Cahill from a set-piece. Simon Mignolet produced a good save from John Terry's header, but the reaction from Cahill was too quick. Goal-line technology confirmed that the ball had crossed the line. Just.

  • Chelsea' press seemed to overwhelm Liverpool for a spell that was enough to get an equaliser. It was disappointing that Liverpool are incapable of preventing an opposition side from creating chances. Interestingly, Chelsea' press intensified and reduced at various points in the first half. Liverpool had no answer to Chelsea's pressing and at one point, it even confused Gerrard and Henderson into trying to receive the same pass. 

  • The first half was entertaining for neutrals, and Liverpool reacted well to Chelsea's equaliser. Henderson was surprised at a shooting opportunity in the Chelsea's box, and Liverpool's left and central areas produced some promising play. Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matić posed different questions that Liverpool struggled to answer as the first half wore on. Chelsea pinned Liverpool deep within the home side's half in the final ten minutes, and Hazard had some fine opportunities that were blocked by Glen Johnson as his trickery on the left became nearly unstoppable. Liverpool looked relieved to go in level at the end of a competitive first half.

  • Liverpool's task was complicated for the second half: score, get around a troublesome press, get more players in the box when the balls are put in, watch Hazard closely, and hopefully do not concede a goal as Chelsea were probably going to score at some stage.

  • Chelsea looked like they were going to score with Liverpool's right side under repeated pressure throughout the second half. Liverpool's midfield wasn't coping very well with Gerrard and Henderson playing poorly. Henderson has to mind Gerrard a lot, but that shouldn't excuse him from a lack of ideas in the final third along with general sloppiness in possession. Glen Johnson, one of the first half's best players defensively, struggled in the second half with a combination of Hazard and Johnson's predilection for playing at a pace from a bygone era.

  • Diego Costa scored with just over twenty minutes to go. Liverpool's two best players were substituted. There could be an argument for Coutinho coming for something different in Lallana or Borini, but maybe Sterling would have been a more likely candidate. Emre Can going off was unbelievable. Rodgers reacting after Chelsea scored is something a lot of managers do when their team suffers from a goal or a sending off. Liverpool woke up after the going behind and toiled in vain without creating much.

  • Borini was somewhat lively, Joe Allen and Rickie Lambert didn't do much so the substitutions weren't great. Adam Lallana was required in those spaces in the final third, but Liverpool didn't deserve anything from the game. The late call for a penalty was justified, and Liverpool should have been given an opportunity to equalise. However, it is telling that Liverpool probably wouldn't have found any other way to equaliser. That's three losses on the spin. Newcastle away, Real Madrid away, and Chelsea at home. The international break is much needed for Liverpool and Rodgers to make some serious changes, because there are players who can make a balanced, effective team.

liverpool blog fc sbn

We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.