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Liverpool 1, Chelsea 1: First Thoughts

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Liverpool were excellent as they drew with Chelsea at Anfield.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

liverpool blog fc sbn

Liverpool 1 Sterling 59'
Chelsea 1 Hazard (pen.) 18'

  • Pre-match thoughts: Liverpool made one change from the side that defeated Aston Villa at Villa Park. Brendan Rodgers gave his captain as long as possible before selecting his side, Steven Gerrard was fit enough to come in for goalscorer Fabio Borini. Mario Balotelli  John Obi Mikel replaced Oscar for greater security in midfield and Thibaut Courtois was preferred to Petr Čech in goal.

  • Both sides were organised well and pressed well without the ball in the opening ten minutes. There was little in the way of chances, but Liverpool seemed to finding some joy down Chelsea's right side. Chelsea were also interested in the right side of an opponent as the inexperience of Emre Can and Lazar Marković defensively was examined. 

  • A clumsy challenge from Emre Can on Eden Hazard left Martin Atkinson with no choice but to award a penalty for the away side. Hazard made no mistake as Simon Mignolet committed to the right and the Belgian settled for the left. Chelsea took the lead.

  • Liverpool weren't second best for the rest of the half and remained organised unlike some of the panicky performances from earlier in the season.

  • Half-time thoughts: The yellow card Filipe Luís felt a little like justice after the harsh yellow cards on Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard for standing fouls on Eden Hazard. They were rightly furious at Martin Atkinson for the yellow cards. The game was highly competitive and balanced. Liverpool responded quite well and remained more organised than Liverpool fans have been accustomed to. The 3421 formation seemed like a good fit.

  • Interceptions at key moments, sound positioning, and good tackles from Chelsea showed how defensively competent the visitors were as Liverpool attacked the Kop. The home side continued to hold the ball in the second half and pursued an equaliser with great intent without much in the way of creating clear chances. The game flowed in one direction Liverpool seemed determined to draw level.

  • The equaliser from Raheem Sterling was deserved and it was some goal. The youngster dropped deep from his striking spot and ran at Chelsea's defence before shooting left-footed from 16 yards into the corner of the net. Courtois had no answer and the holidaying scamp electrified the Kop. Liverpool's intensity dropped off for five minutes after the goal as Chelsea attacked Liverpool's right through Diego Costa and Eden Hazard. Liverpool regained control and pressed for a winner. Gerrard hit the post on 67 minutes after excellent work down the left from Philippe Coutinho and the Brazilian made Courtois work a minute later.

  • Chelsea had a couple of promising counter attack situations in the final twenty minutes that didn't lead to any clear chances or any dangerous moments. Adam Lallana's introduction for Steven Gerrard in the second half was the right move as Liverpool were dominant, in control of the game, and didn't give the Premier League leaders anything to capitalise on. The greater energy and freshness helped continue the onslaught. Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana tested Courtois from distance as Liverpool pushed for a winning goal. Liverpool defended well as Can mostly regained his composure alongside the excellent Martin Škrtel and Mamadou Sakho.

  • Full-time thoughts: Liverpool showed what they've got in probably the best performance of the season. Courtois was exceptionally busy, while Simon Mignolet had a relatively comfortable evening. Liverpool go into the second leg with everything to play for. Chelsea have the away goal, but Liverpool have something that could be just as valuable: belief.

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.