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Liverpool 4 Chelsea 1 - Prem (May 8 2012)

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LIVERPOOL 4 Chelsea 1

Report by Dave Usher at Anfield

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Scorer(s) – Michael Essien O.G., Jordan Henderson, Daniel Agger, Jonjo Shelvey

Half Time - 3-0

Venue - Anfield

Date - Tue 8 May 2012

Star Man – Andy Carroll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We really needed this. It doesn't make up for the disappointment of Wembley or the staggeringly poor home record but it was nice all the same. Everyone had smiles on their faces coming out of Anfield, and I'm still smiling today. The performance was fantastic, both from players and crowd and, bizarrely, this was the most fun I've had at the game in ages. It was just nice seeing us playing well and actually getting the goals the performance deserved for once. And I'm not gonna lie, seeing John Terry being made to look like a Sunday league clogger wasn't bad either. "Mongo no like big man with pony tail or little man with big teeth".

 

The great thing about it was that there was no feeling sorry for ourselves after losing the cup final. The crowd were as up for this as they've been for any league game all season and the players did their bit too. After the season we've had you'd expect everyone to be down in the dumps, but it wasn't like that at all. Seriously, if you didn't know the result from Saturday you'd have assumed that we'd won based on the two sets of fans at Anfield. Loads of empty seats in the Chelsea end, and a fired up, hugely supportive home crowd. Like I said in the cup final match report, I'd rather lose as a Liverpool fan than win supporting Chelsea.

 

Kenny had his name chanted throughout the game and no-one was on the player's backs either. That's not just because of the scoreline, the atmosphere was lively right from the off. Andy Carroll's all action display also helped raise the noise levels and right now his stock amongst the crowd is sky rocketing. He had great support even when things were going badly, but now that he's hit form there's every chance he could become idolised if he can sustain this level of play.

 

The scoreline would suggest this was our best performance of the season, and in terms of all round football it probably was as this time the goals were there to reflect our dominance. We've produced similar displays on numerous other occasions only to come away with a draw or even worse. It's unfortunate that it took until the last home game for us to get that big win, but I'm not going to let that kill my buzz. It provided some form of closure after losing to them at Wembley. Yes, they left out a lot of players, and the game was fairly meaningless especially in comparison to an FA Cup final. But still, I'm glad we got the chance to get it out of our system so quickly and so emphatically.

 

It should really have been an even bigger margin of victory as once again we struck the woodwork twice (one from a penalty that saw us set the record for the most spot kick misses in a season), but this time it didn't matter. The woodwork actually came to our aid a couple of times too, which never seems to happen. That Torres was one of the players denied by it made this even sweeter. There have been games where virtually everything has gone wrong, but this was one where almost everything went right. About fucking time our luck changed. Shame it took until the second to last game of the season!

 

In the immediate aftermath of the Wembley defeat I have to admit I was really, really dreading this fixture. Yet by the day of the game I was genuinely looking forward to it. The main reason for sudden enthusiasm was Andy Carroll. Having had time to reflect on the carnage he caused in Chelsea's backline at the weekend I couldn't wait to see if he could do it again, this time from the start. I was buzzing about what we saw from him at Wembley and an awful season could take on a more positive light if Carroll could continue in the form he's been in recently. By that I don't mean it salvages anything from a disappointing campaign, but it would certainly provide hope that things might be better next year.

 

Well he did more than continue that form, he improved upon it. Chelsea just couldn't handle him and he was the leading light in an all round team performance that matched anything we've produced all season. He led from the front and everyone else followed his lead, including the fans who were loving it. The ovation he got for chasing a ball down at the Kop end to prevent a goal-kick was spine tingling. It seemed like everyone was on their feet applauding for ages after that. He must have felt ten foot tall. At times he looked ten foot tall, as he soared above Terry and Ivanovic time and time again. Those two are no shrinking violets but they got their arses handed to them repeatedly, both in the air and on the ground.

 

It wasn't just Carroll either. He dominated them physically, but Suarez was just making them look stupid with one nutmeg after another. He was mesmerising at times, and between them our front two megged Mongo three times in the opening twenty minutes. Brilliant stuff. Having Carroll there to occupy the centre halves allows Suarez to go roaming about, just looking to get on the ball so he can do his thing. As a pairing they've been steadily improving since the turn of the year and there's definitely something there for us to build on next season if Carroll can maintain the level he's at now. I'm loving watching them develop, both individually and as a partnership, and it's a shame the season is ending just as Carroll has hit top gear.

 

It wasn't just about those two however, everybody performed to a high level and the two young midfielders deserve a pat on the back for how they played. Both got on the scoresheet and both looked impressive. This was easily Henderson's best game and I'm struggling to think of a single mistake he made. My only fear coming into the game was whether those two could live with Chelsea's more experienced midfield trio. Romeu is only a young lad too, but Ramires and Essien present a tough match up for even the most experienced of midfielders, let alone two lads aged 20 and 21. They were terrific though, and not just because they both scored.

 

I'm not kidding myself, I know Chelsea have bigger fish to fry and left a lot of key players out, but it was still a strong line up and those who were selected seemed pretty up for it to me. A little too up for it in fact. Ivanovic, Ferreira, Mongo and Essien were all booked in the first half, but Ivanovic and Essien could easily have seen red. Essien's horrific two footed lunge from behind on Carroll was a clear red card offence, and for the same referee who sent Spearing off at Fulham to only produce a yellow for that is a little bit galling. Chelsea's players did not want to lose this game and many of them were trying to show they are worth a place in the Champions League final. Cech may have made a difference though, and leaving him out was a little stupid I'd say. Generally, I thought they were up for it but were just well beaten on the night.

 

No-one in blue was more up for it than Torres. You could see just how desperate he was to score and to play well. He did more chasing in this game than he did in his last six months in a red shirt. He wanted it badly, but not as badly as Carragher & co wanted to shut him out. Aside from one flash of brilliance that saw him smash a shot against the bar at the Kop end, he didn't get a sniff. Carragher and Skrtel were outstanding and both full backs also performed excellently. Any time Torres got the ball our players swarmed around him. It wasn't just the fans that badly wanted him shut down, our defenders wanted no part of him coming back and scoring against us either. Torres really got it in the neck from the fans and at full time he couldn't get off the field quick enough, the fucking baby. The lowest ebb had to have been the 'She fell over' chant after he'd slipped over in front of the Kop. Not the return he hoped for, that's for damn sure.

 

But as well as we played things could have been different had Ivanovic's free header from a Malouda corner found the net instead of the post early on. Three of our defenders collided and fell to the ground leaving him unchallenged six yards out. This gormless looking dopey bastard scored twice in one game against us in Europe a few years back from similar situations, but this time his luck was out. All season those have been going in against us, we've not been able to catch many breaks at all so it was nice to see fortune favour us for a change. It came against the run of play, we'd started brightly and were on top, but how many times have we seen that this season?

 

It's fair to say that our opening goal had an element of fortune about it too, although perhaps not as much as people may think. Surely I'm not the only one that thinks Suarez deliberately played that ball off Essien? When you look at it, he didn't have any other option as there was no angle to take on a shot and the path to cut the ball back to Maxi was blocked. I reckon he knew what he was doing there, it was the high percentage play under the circumstances.

 

The run that led to it was vintage Suarez too. Despite Romeu trying to foul him as he weaved his way down the right wing, he managed to retain his balance and drive towards the box. Over came Mongo and… whoops… through the legs and he was bearing down on goal. For someone who doesn't have blistering pace, Suarez is amazing when it comes to going past players. It's a rare gift he has, especially when it comes to megging people. There's so many pointless stats and most of them mean nothing to me. They didn't do Damien Comolli much good did they? That said, I'd love to see stats for how many nutmegs Luis averages per game. I'd set the over/under at three.

 

Terry was having a bad time of it regardless of which striker he was trying to mark and his evening would get worse when he did the splits as he tried to cut out a Maxi through ball intended for Henderson. Between the three nutmegs and doing the splits, it was clear that Terry was having trouble keeping his legs shut with so many scousers around. Can't imagine where he gets that from.

 

Aaaaanyway, Hendo was clean through on goal with just the keeper to beat. Last time that happened he made a right pig's arse of it at Stoke. This time the finish was as cool as you like, just bent it around the keeper into the bottom corner. Great stuff.

 

Agger made it 3-0 when he headed in after Carroll had towered over Mongo at the back post to put the ball back into the danger area. We had other chances in the first half too. Carroll curled one over from 25 yards after a brilliant lay off from a stretching Suarez. Luis had earlier dragged one wide after his first meg on Terry and he also forced a tip over from Turnbull with a clever chip after a Downing corner. Maxi had a chance following a typically slick one-two with Suarez after another towering Carroll flick had set us on the attack, and Carroll himself was denied by Turnbull after running clear onto a poor header by Terry. Carroll's first touch and control on the run was unrecognisable from the player he was a few months ago, but he's clearly fitter and a lot more confident these days. This is the lad who looked so good at Newcastle.

 

There were other chances too. Downing hit the bar with a brilliant effort and earlier he should have been played in by Suarez only for the striker to overhit the pass after Carroll's closing down had forced a Chelsea error. It was brilliant stuff, the tempo was high and we were pressing Chelsea in their own half and forcing mistakes.

 

It was starting with Carroll who was defending from the front and not letting them settle. He chased, he harried and he was tackling back too. When your centre forward is doing that and everyone else follows suit, it makes you very difficult to play against and it gets the crowd involved. Chelsea just didn't know how to deal with him, and Ivanovic ended up resorting to desperate measures when he elbowed him in the throat as 'the divine ponytail' prepared to attack a Henderson cross. Not even Kevin Friend could fail to spot that, and he rightly awarded the penalty. Ivanovic got a yellow but it could have been a red. Had the elbow been a few inches higher it surely would have been.

 

With no recognised penalty taker on the field Downing took the responsibility. He'd produced arguably his best half as a Liverpool player and a goal would have been just reward. He'd missed his previous two pens in the league apparently but he slotted for us in the League Cup shootout and he was unlucky not to score this time, his shot hitting the foot of the post having sent the keeper the wrong way. I felt bad for him, he's desperate to get that first league goal as it must be a real weight on his shoulders, much like the 'no assists' stat. I really hope he can rectify both at Swansea this weekend as he won't want to have those two fat zero's on his record.

 

That was the last action of an amazing first half. It's funny because I'd said to a few people beforehand I thought we were going to win 6-0 so I was pretty smug at the half. I'd have been a lot more had Downing put that pen away, but the way Carroll and Suarez were playing - not to mention Terry's performance - I was still fairly confident of being proved right. Admittedly I've predicted similar scorelines before most home games this season (most recently West Brom when I was convinced we'd get five), but that's not the point.

 

Half time came at the right moment for Chelsea and the wrong moment for us. It's always difficult just picking up the pace straight away when you've performed so well before the break, and the second half began in fairly low key fashion. Chelsea had more of the ball than they'd had previously and we didn't appear to be pressing as much, instead preferring to stay in position and just contain them. The intensity had gone out of the game and it suited them more than us.

 

Chelsea pulled a goal back from a set-piece when Ramires bundled the ball home with his chest. It wasn't great from Reina but I have some sympathy with him on this one. If he stays where he is and Ramires doesn't make contact, the ball goes in and everyone points the finger at the keeper. So he moves to his right, Ramires does get a touch and the ball is in the net and people are pointing at the keeper. He probably should have done better, but I didn't think it was that bad, certainly not in comparison to some he's let in.

 

It was certainly not as bad as the howler made by his opposite number shortly afterwards. Turnbull's poor clearance went straight to the one man in the Liverpool side he'd least want it to fall to. Shelvey strikes a ball as cleanly as anybody at the club with the possible exception of Gerrard. I've been watching him warm up at half time in a lot of games this season, and he just pings the ball from one side of the field to other effortlessly and with pinpoint accuracy. It may have been an empty net but there was still a fair bit of work to do as the half volley had to be struck with plenty of pace to prevent Turnbull getting back to make a save and it's easy to sky those. Jonjo made it look incredibly easy. Not a bad way to open your Premier League account.

 

That goal ensured there'd be no unlikely Chelsea fightback and the rest of the game was all Liverpool aside from one glorious chance for Lukaku that brought a fine reaction stop from a fired up Reina. After making the stop he kicked the post and pumped his fists, probably thinking the same thing most of the fans were; "Finally!!".

 

Carroll should have done better when he mis-kicked from a stunning early cross from Johnson. The one blot on his copybook that, aside from that his performance was close to perfect. Nice to see him and Suarez both left on for the entire game too. Kuyt and Sterling were always going to be brought on in this game, and rightly so, but it would have been very disappointing to see either striker make way. The two widemen were the logical choices, particularly Maxi as it allowed him to get the ovation he deserved on his final game at Anfield. It was a little sad seeing him waving to the fans on his way off, he'll be missed as not only is he a quality player but he's a fantastic professional and all round good guy.

 

He was replaced by Kuyt, who may also have been making his last appearance at Anfield. That one isn't as clear cut though, we'll have to see what happens there. Sterling replaced Downing and within seconds had a glorious chance to make a name for himself. Carroll once again towered above Ivanovic and flicked the ball on to Suarez, who in turn flicked it on into the path of the youngster. It was presentable chance and one that he may well have buried on his right foot. Unfortunately his left foot isn't great and the ball flew into the Kop. There are a lot of similarities between Sterling and Michael Owen at the same age. A weak left foot is one of them, but Owen worked on that and his heading and improved markedly within a few years. Heading probably isn't as important to Sterling as he's not likely to be a central striker like Owen was, but if he can work on his left foot then he'll be virtually unstoppable when you ally that to his searing pace and trickery.

 

Henderson had a shot deflected narrowly wide after being teed up by Suarez. Yet again, the key to the move was a great flick by Carroll into the path of his strike partner. They really are starting to combine well. Carroll wins virtually every aerial duel these days and Suarez is now anticipating it and running off him into space. It bodes very well for next season.

 

Suarez then should have done better after some lovely interplay between him and Kuyt, and finally Agger headed just wide after a brilliant right wing cross by Carroll. He's shown a few times this season that his crossing is seriously good. It's a pity he can't get on the end of his own deliveries as he'd fill his boots I reckon.

 

There was a late incident involving Suarez and Ivanovic when they tangled by the corner flag as the defender tried to shepherd the ball out of play. He initially seemed to swing an arm at Suarez but missed, and then Suarez tried to get around him and caught him with his arm. Looked like nothing to me and Suarez was extremely apologetic as soon as it happened. Ivanovic made a meal of it and wouldn't get up, and in the end Carroll went over and tried to pull Suarez away but Luis was having none of it. The only time they weren't on the same page all night, but I loved Carroll's attitude. Basically it was 'just fucking leave him there the shithouse'.

 

The Kop taunted Chelsea with chants about Bayern Munich, the pick of which was 'Bayern Munich, they'll win it five it times". Let's hope they do, can't be having these scumbags getting their grubby little chav hands on our trophy.

 

This feels like it's turning into the longest report of the season so I'm going to wrap it up by saying that whilst it's often said that the league table doesn't lie, I'd suggest that it's seriously stretching the truth right now. We may be 8th and will hopefully climb to 7th after the final day, but if the season were to start again I'd put good money on us being right in amongst that battle for the top three or four. My logic is thus: Things have happened this season that will surely never happen again. Hitting the woodwork close to 40 times. Missing a record number of penalties. The Suarez suspension. Being without our first choice midfield pairing for virtually the entire season (Lucas and Gerrard played less than a handful of games together). Suarez missing so many chances. A world class goalkeeper forgetting how to save shots. Downing failing to register a single goal or assist.

 

Clearly this season has been unacceptable, but I'd argue that things are certainly not quite as bad as the results alone would suggest. We've got some major flaws and there's a lot of work to be done, but we have plenty to build on including a centre back pairing that's as good as anything out there and a strike partnership that is showing the potential to be the same. We've displayed on many occasions the kind of football we can play and but for some of the freak circumstances listed above that will surely not be repeated we'd be in a much better position. That all sounds a little bit 'Evertonian' I know, but I think it's a valid explanation at least, if not an excuse.

 

In closing, whilst Kenny is far from blameless and has made numerous mistakes (and I admit I've got major concerns about him in the transfer market), I really hope he's given another year to see where he can take us, but it seems very much up in the air right now. I very much doubt that the Swansea game will have any bearing on whatever decision the owners make, but it would be nice to finish off with a win anyway and hopefully Carroll and Suarez can pick up where they left off here against Mongo and the other knuckledragger, Ivanovic.

 

 

Team: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger; Downing (Sterling), Henderson, Shelvey, Maxi (Kuyt); Suarez, Carroll:

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Totally agree with that report - especially the end bit. We are not in as bad shape as the table suggests, not by any means. It has been a strange season but there are positive signs and reasons to be confident going into next season. Good stuff.

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''and… whoops… through the legs and he was bearing down on goal. For someone who doesn't have blistering pace, Suarez is amazing when it comes to going past players. It's a rare gift he has, especially when it comes to megging people. There's so many pointless stats and most of them mean nothing to me. They didn't do Damien Comolli much good did they? That said, I'd love to see stats for how many nutmegs Luis averages per game. I'd set the over/under at three.''

 

Not a stat-attack, but a showpiece of 'the Panna' skills.

 

[YOUTUBE]XEtC-QOfWWQ&[/YOUTUBE]

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Great report as usual. Just one observation - the Ivanovic header against the post..... our defenders didn't collide - there was a blatant, two hands-in-the-back push by Ramires on Agger. It's crystal clear when seen from behind the goal, but the hapless Mr Friend didn't spot it.

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I just want to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your match reports this season, You have pretty much summed up everything incredibly well and made me laugh a few times along the way.

Thanks

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Awesome. Great performance, great report.

 

The Suarez/Essien own-goal was deffo intended. It was right in front of us and there was no fortune involved. Deliberate and brilliant.

 

We seemed to spend as much time singing about Chelsea rentboys, no history, John Terry's ma (pmsl), Bayern Munich, as we did anything else. Don't get me wrong, very funny and true, but it just felt a bit, I don't know a bit over-the-top. Too much.

 

And Torres. Hmmm. His final season/18 months for us were torture and his "big club" comment was at best misguided, but I still fucking love him. I can imagine few other players I'd like to be on our books alongside Suarez and, in his current form, Carroll. Luis 'Nando and Andy, can you imagine? And the guy brought us £50,000,000. Fifty million knicker. He doesn't deserve the stick he gets from us. I think he still loves Liverpool FC and I reckon our chants hurt him deeply. I know a lot of it is to put him off, the idea of him scoring against us is awful, but I don't know, enough is enough.

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John Terry blows sweat off dead men's balls.

I got nearly as much pleasure watching him being handed his arse repeatedly as I did in the final result. The mongoloid shithouse.

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