I couldn’t have hoped for a better sunday. Apart from the fact that I had to wake up at 7:30 a to catch this game online because neither Fox Soccer Channel nor ESPN2 was showing this game, I can’t be any happier. Beyond the importance of this victory at Anfield and the fact that it takes us one step further to the title, this game also capped a perfect score for chelsea against other “big 4” teams. victories by 1-0 and 2-1 over Manchester United, by 3-0 and 2-0 over Arsenal, and by 2-0 twice over Liverpool, wrapped up an outstanding record against our big 4 opponents. This can’t be just luck, this shows that under Ancelotti the team has found again its way to win big matches. Of course there is the Inter Milan exception, but hey.. Ancelotti was just purely and simply outsmarted by the special on. What I noticed from Chelsea this season is they much better when they open the score. Their soccer is fluid, they look in control and more relaxed on the ball and likely to score again at any time. The longer they play without scoring and the more nervous they look. Against the big 4 teams, they always opened the score and always looked more in control for that reason. Chelsea’s main problems this season came from teams outside of the big 4 group and in most cases because of the lack of intensity the blues showed in those games. They didn’t show the same intensity in those games as against the likes of Arsenal, ManU and Liverpool. Could it be lack of motivation? over-confidence? could even be both. That’s what Chelsea needs to address next year. They look very vulnerable when they don’t score early and when they concede first. These are areas Ancelotti needs to improve for next year.
As for the game itself, Chelsea wasn’t doing anything special (neither was Liverpool) until Gerrard gifted Drogba with the first goal. To my point, after Chelsea scored just before the half time, their play became much more confident and they were always in control. I thought Kalou did pretty well on the left flank. He beat his opponent over there consistently but needs to work harder on his last pass. Anelka and Drogba were not spectacular but both worked tirelessly especially after getting the lead. They dropped back when the team lost possession and held the line up effectively. The defense was not troubled very much, even though Ballack once again showed his limitations. He wasn’t nearly as good as Mikel in front of the defense. He lacks the physical condition required for this position and kept making silly fouls because he was not up to the challenge.
All in all, well done Chelsea and one game to go !