Liverpool V Chelsea - Lucky Reds
I breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the match-only a 1-0 loss is a good result when one considers the gulf in class evident today. It should be all over by now, but somehow or other the tie is still alive, but perhaps only to delay the inevitable?
The line-ups had me worried sick. As well as Arbeloa has done so far, Finnan's the first choice right back and the decision to play Bolo Zenden had me almost having a cardiac arrest. I think he's pretty good, but having hardly played any football for 2 years with injuries, and now being reduced to a bit part player, it was shocking to see his name on the team sheet, at left midfield to boot, a position he has barely played for some years now. Bellamy for Crouch was a 50-50 proposition, and Gerrard on the right no longer makes me mad; I have accepted that he is the fifth choice central midfielder at the club. Chelsea's line-up was full of attacking intent, and suddenly, much to my dissapointment, Carvalho was back at CB, and Ashley Cole at right back; plus Boulahrouz and Geremi (and Bridge?) were on the bench. Of course Ferreira played like it was 2005 again when he was fantastic.
It was too defensive a line-up but so be it; surely we can keep the ball then...yeah right. For all the criticism of English players' poor technique, Arbeloa and Mascherano kept giving the ball away and then gave stupid fouls to make up for it. Mascherano in particular seemed incapable of passing the ball 5 yards to a man in red, and Risse at times was also guilty of this. Chelsea were superb though the goal came from poor defending. Not quite Agger (Drogba was maginificent) but Arbeloa who started 5 yards ahead of Joe Cole but ended up 3 yards behind him leaving Cole to blast the ball in.
It was about time Arbeloa had a poor match; he's been very good-unfortunately it had to be this one. He wasn't the only one though. Risse, Mascherano, Gerrard and Bellamy were quite poor too though I'll defend Gerrard given he was on the right but never getting the ball (partially due to Arbeloa being so poor). Reina kept us in it, and Zenden was very useful indeed, surprisingly.
We were only as good as Chelsea let us be, and it surprised me that at 1-0 Chelsea didn't go for the kill while Liverpool did not make more of an effort going forwards. This in part is due to both coaches being too concerned about safety. Mourinho backs him team to win 1-0 and rarely concede. As far as he's concerned 1-0 is much better than risking losing one by pressing too much to kill the game off. Benitez also feels it's better to lose 1-0 than press to hard for an equalizer and risk losing 2-0. I think that's more Chelsea's loss though; at home, when so superior, Mourinho could have been more daring.
Still an open tie, but advantage Chelsea-a second chance for Liverpool really, will we take it?