Chelsea showed their physical side in taking an invaluable 3 points in this top of the table clash.
Liverpool were on the end of a second half bruising as Mourinho decided to change tactics at half time. The Merseysiders have had a grim Christmas so far losing back to back big away games and now have Everton looking down their noses at them in the table.
The game was a good one. The Blues had to come from behind to claim this Red scalp.
Jose has won his first battle against his protegé. Brendan Rogers said before the start that Mourinho taught him all he knew, well , he just got some extra tuition.
I cannot recall a game where the Manager dictated the game more than this. Jose started out with a gung-ho attacking formation which saw his side play some of their most crowd pleasing football so far this campaign.
At the break having gone in with a 2-1 lead, he decided to do a 180, sending on the “spoiler”, Obi Mikel in Lampards place. He also clipped David Luis’s wings for the 2nd 45, directing him into a deeper role. This meant, gone was the Beautiful game and in its place was some old school harassment. The result was a great 3 points, although the 41,000 capacity would have felt a little cheated after the first half had whetted their appetites for flowing football.
At least the way in which the Blues played in the first half will cement their case as title challengers. The pundits should applaud today’s glimpse of Total Football that could match Citeh at their best.
The only disappointing take away from this game is that our defence managed yet again to leak an early goal. Courtinho’s out swinging free kick saw Suarez beat Ivanovich to the punch leaving Skrtel with an easy tap in. JT’s face was a picture, portraying what we all felt.
Chelsea then showed serious character by taking no time at all to shrug off the mistake and get right back on the horse. Oscar, Hazzard and Willian under the direction of Lampard bossed the middle of the park with some stunning one touch passing and a tremendous off the ball work rate. Eto’o also looked busy, providing a good foil and chasing down the Liverpool defenders.
The home side got it’s reward on 17 minutes. In a classic counter attack, Willian and Oscar combined to free Hazzard on the edge of the box. Chelsea’s Belgian top scorer added to his tally with a superb curling right foot shot into the top corner which left Mignolet rooted to the spot.
Chelsea looked in the mood. Liverpool also had their chances but overall possession was now definitely of a blue shade.
Chelsea scored what would end up being the winning goal on 34 minutes. After good work down the right, Oscar managed to cross low into the box. Eto’o in classic poacher style, left Skrtel for dead, “Ca’marooned ” on the 6 yard line, to sneak a toe poke passed Mignolet into the far corner.
The crowd gave a deserved standing ovation at the half-time whistle. That same crowd had a puzzled look as John Obi Mikel number was shown on the sub’s board when the teams re-entered after the break. Having lost Ivanovich to a groin strain midway through the first half, Frank Lampard had also now fallen to injury. Jose had decided to retreat into his shell and for the second half we saw a well-drilled Blues team out muscle its opponents, by both fair and foul means.
In a scrappy bruising second 45, Howard Webb was forced to show more yellow cards than he had Christmas cards on his mantle. Chelsea being the main recipient of his disciplinarian response. Eto’o, Luis,Terry, Cahil and Oscar all did Ron Harris proud.
In the end Chelsea manged to contain Luis Suarez, which in itself won us the game. Terry and Cahill continue to form a formidable partnership.
Torres got 5 minutes to have a go at his former employees and in that short time provided his usual wintry mix, of nearly scoring (solo dribbling effort) and running into a brick wall and losing possession. It is starting to feel like he is in the shop window.
Chelsea, under Mourinho’s shrewd guidance seem to have worked out a few kinks of late and from being uninvited guests to Arsenal and Citeh’s party, something tells me we are about to show our true colours and up our game for the second half of the season….
I would like to see Torres and Ba traded for a more lethal weapon in January, Jose’s patience has been admirable but time to move on.