Who could forget the last time these two teams met? Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool team were riding on a wave of victory, a 16 game unbeaten run crushing all that lay in their way with a shock and awe tactic of high tempo, fully fluid, attacking football. The pundits had it written in stone: Chelsea’s scalp would be the final prize for Liverpool to claim on their way to a long-awaited Premier League title.
Jose Mourinho had other ideas, however. It was well known that Liverpool were so good going forward that they ultimately neglected their defence due to the sheer volume of goals they scored. They would take a 4-3 over a 1-0 victory every day. Jose knew he had an unpolished diamond of a team. He had the best defence in the league but no strike force, how could he shut out this red storm?
If football is war, the resulting game would be used by generals as a textbook example of how to battle a superior foe.
Jose Mourinho dropped his underperforming strikers in favour for loyal defensive midfielders and the physical strength of Demba Ba. He shut out Liverpool with an impenetrable wall of five midfielders protecting four defenders and left Ba alone to face Liverpool’s defence. Many teams have tried this tactic before Chelsea and ultimately fell to the sheer determination of Liverpool’s attacking might.
Chelsea, however, took the tactic to the extreme. They time wasted from the first minute, tackled hard and man marked every single Liverpool forward. When they dispossessed Liverpool of the ball, they would fire the ball straight back into the Liverpool half of the pitch and sit back with no intention of chasing after the ball.
Liverpool didn’t know what to do, Chelsea didn’t even want to score a goal.
The reds panicked and with a false sense of security threw their full backs forward – exactly what Mourinho expected. Both of Chelsea’s goals were the result of Liverpool committing too many players forward. Chelsea won the game 2-0 away from home and in the aftermath Liverpool crumbled to a shadow of the team that they were up to that game. Jose got inside their head and single handily took the Premier League trophy out of Liverpool’s hands.
Today, nearly six months later, the two teams went to battle once more in the red cauldron. How things have changed. Liverpool threw in the towel against Real Madrid on Tuesday, they have become a team with no bite, no ability to strike fear in their opponents. Chelsea have added key players to their squad to become a European powerhouse with quality in every rank.
These Liverpool players are young, brave men. Yet, like all men, they are ultimately fallible. Today, they went to battle under leadership of the cowardly Brendan Rodgers, against the autocratic Jose Mourinho and his remorseless army of cyborg battle droids.
The game played out much differently to that of six months ago. Liverpool scored first blood in the 9th minute with a shot from new boy Emre Can that deflected wildly off of Gary Cahill. “The battle droids bleed!” the Liverpool supporters cried.
The battle droids feel no emotion, however, and simply turned their dials up to 11. They proceeded to pound away at the Liverpool defence with a series of thunderous strikes that eventually penetrated the Liverpool defenders. On the goal line, however, Mignolet was there to save the day with two top quality saves. But then the referee blew his whistle for a goal. The stadium is stunned! Surely Mignolet has kept the ball out?
The new goal line technology, which, like the Chelsea team, feels no remorse, ultimately sides with the battle droids and indicates that the ball did indeed cross the line, awarding a goal to Chelsea. The Liverpool players are shocked and try to regroup. They mount a valiant attack against Chelsea, but the realisation that technology is the new power of European football seems to hang over them like a malevolent shadow.
A goal in the second half by Diego Costa ultimately puts Liverpool to the sword. For over an hour, Costa had seemed to store all the hatred directed at him by the fans and in particular Martin Škrtel, before unleashing a thunderous strike on the football with what appeared to be the force of 45,000 angry Liverpool fans on the 67th minute. No man could have stopped such a blunderbuss of a shot and it proved to be the decisive moment as Chelsea went on to win the game 2-1.