Saturday’s early game saw league leaders Chelsea travel to Anfield. Both teams suffered a poor week in the Champions League and were eager to put things right.
Brendan Rodgers came under scrutiny midweek after naming a weakened side to face Real Madrid. The line-ups were always going to be a big talking point – out of the seven changes he made against Madrid, only Emre Can kept his place. It was clear that Liverpool had their eye on this game and Liverpool fans were surely expecting a result. Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill all returned for Chelsea.
Liverpool were the front-runners for many of their games last season and were the same today. After just eight minutes, Emre Can justified his selection. The German found space around 25-yards away from goal. The shot was fairly ambitious, but a wicked deflection off of Cahill left Courtois with no chance and Liverpool went 1-0 up. Anfield was rocking.
This was the wake-up call Chelsea needed. It only took the Blues five minutes to find an equaliser.A Cesc Fabregas corner found John Terry, who headed towards goal, only for Mignolet to save well. The ball fell to Gary Cahill, who smashed it back into the hands of Mignolet. However, through the use of goal-line technology, the ball was shown to have crossed over the line. You could say it was the least Cahill deserved after the opening goal.
The first-half soon became a very fierce battle between the two sides. Chelsea were quickly growing into the game, causing one or two nerves within the Liverpool side. Diego Costa was being his usual menacing self and rattling the Liverpool defence.
Both sides had their moments, but the teams went in for half-time with the score remaining 1-1.
The second-half started in a very similar fashion. The teams were end-to-end, both trying to create chances. Liverpool came close when Raheem Sterling beat Ivanovic for pace and managed to get his shot away towards the near post, but Courtois was on hand to save well.
In the 66th minute, Chelsea took control of the game. After a blistering run down the wing from Azpilicueta, the full-back passed across goal and the ball eventually fell to Diego Costa. The Spaniard smashed it into the back of the net, putting Chelsea 2-1 ahead. The goal was Costa’s 10th of the season.
Steven Gerrard had a claim for a penalty after his miskick bounced up onto the arm of Cahill. Referee Anthony Taylor was unmoved and gave nothing.
After Chelsea took the lead, the Blues were comfortable and held on to their lead, while Liverpool failed to mount any threatening chances and the game finished 2-1.
With another solid defensive performance, Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points. Liverpool showed signs of improvement, but still looked far from the side that did so well last season. The team, it appears, are still struggling to find goals following the departure of Luis Suarez.