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Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool


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logo1.jpgSunday 4 October 2009, the FA Premier League, Stamford Bridge, West London

Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda scored as Chelsea beat Liverpool in the Premier League to return to the summit of the table.

With an uncharacteristically-poor Manchester United dropping two points at home against Sunderland on Saturday evening, it was the perfect opportunity for Chelsea to retake top spot after their poor performance at Wigan, which saw Carlo Ancelotti's side beaten for the first time this campaign. But against a Liverpool side in decent form, Chelsea were imperious; from Henrique Hilario's solid performance as he deputised for the suspended Petr Cech to Michael Essien's dominating second half showing in midfield. John Terry was equally as impressive in front of the watching England manager Fabio Capello, and the England defender was as faultless as ever at the heart of the Chelsea defence.

The game was a typically-tight affair, unlike the two Champions League fixtures between the two clubs last season. Both teams controlled the match for periods but it was Chelsea who looked the most likely to score, but in Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Torres, both sides had incredible reserves of quality in the final third of the pitch. The Blues took the lead on the hour mark as the two Chelsea forwards combined; Anelka tapping home after Drogba had broken free of the Liverpool marking to delivery an inch-perfect cross. And whilst Torres was left chasing shadows against Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry, Chelsea added a second goal in stoppage time when Florent Malouda poked home to secure three precious points for Carlo Ancelotti's men.

There were heroes all over the pitch. Hilario was as reliable as ever in goal, making a number of good saves from Steven Gerrard and Albert Riera in particular, and Branislav Ivanovic - scorer of two goals at Anfield last season - offered next to nothing to the Liverpool forwards. Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack were as industrious as ever, and the menace of Drogba's strength and Anelka's pace was a constant threat to Pepe Reina's goal.

Javier Mascherano was back for Liverpool; the Argentine a notable absentee in Liverpool's 2-0 defeat in Italy to Fiorentina. Glen Johnson featured at full back for the visitors, whilst Emiliano Ensua retained his place at left back. For Chelsea there were four changes to the side that earned a victory in Nicosia; with Hilario, Michael Ballack, Anderson Deco and Didier Drogba returning to the side in place of Petr Cech, Florent Malouda, Juliano Belletti and Salomon Kalou.

The opening fifteen minutes were incredibly quiet as both teams sized each other up, with Deco slightly over-hitting a pass beyond Drogba as the Blues came forward for the first time on four minutes, before Hilario made a confident catch under his crossbar from Johnson's deep cross. John Terry then excelled to beat Fernando Torres to a pass from Albert Riera, clearing the ball for a throw-in for the visitors. Torres caught Terry late, and how the Spaniard was not booked was beyond a bemused-looking England captain.

The first chance of the game fell to Drogba who, moments after Ivanovic had kept Torres at bay at the other end, saw a looping header saved by Reina. The effort was probably going wide, but it was a reminder that Chelsea were just as potent on the counter attack as the likes of Barcelona, Olympique Lyonnais and Arsenal. Liverpool had seen plenty of the early possession but had created relatively little, with Hilario's second catch of the game from an Insua cross all the Merseysiders could offer in response.

Chelsea were in the ascendancy, and were gradually improving following their slow start to the match. Anelka saw a low header well-caught by Reina, who fell to his side to gratefully clutch the ball after the Frenchman had nodded goalwards from Michael Essien's cross. The effort lacked power but Reina did well to save it nevertheless. At the other end, Steven Gerrard - woefully quiet in the opening period of the game - spat in disgust as his own free kick was belted wide of the mark.

The best chance of the half belonged to Michael Ballack, who might have done better than headed over Reina's crossbar. Drogba was making a nuisance of himself, and when the Ivorian striker was felled out wide, Lampard's delivery found Ballack in a yard or so of space, but the German failed to direct his header goalwards, much to his own annoyance. It was a guilt-edged opportunity and the best of a cagey first half.

However, the game was beginning to open up, and Michael Essien found Reina's midriff with a drive from the edge of the area. It was a sweetly-struck effort from the Ghanaian after Lampard had seen a shot deflected wide after Anelka and Ivanovic had neatly combined on the right flank. Riera's freekick in 44 minutes was then palmed away by Hilario after the ball had been fizzed into the area without any real conviction. The effort still needed saving, however, and a pair of strong wrists form the Portuguese goalkeeper saw the ball pushed wide. The first half ended with the two sides finally emerging from their shells after a tight first forty minutes. Both teams were showing the other a lot of respect and were cautious not to leave their defences exposed, with Essien and Mascherano protecting their respective rearguards.

Glen Johnson, subject to a torrent of abuse from the Stamford Bridge faithful, did well to tackle and floor Drogba as the Chelsea number 11 roamed forward menacingly as the game restarted. However, the Liverpool defender was helpless as Chelsea took the lead through a goal crafted from lackadaisical play from the visitors.

Mascherano conceded possession to Lampard, who in turn fed Essien and then onto Drogba. The Chelsea forward's cross was a peach and left with the perfect opportunity to put the Blues ahead, which the Frenchman did confidently. Dispatching the ball high beyond Reina, Anelka wheeled away to celebrate with Deco as Chelsea scored their first goal from open play against Liverpool in the Premier League since Didier Drogba had scored in a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in 2006/07.

Johnson was proving to be Liverpool's greatest attacking threat, and he shot over from a decent position moments after one of his crosses was headed wide by Torres. There were 15 minutes remaining on the clock, but Chelsea were sitting back and allowing the visiting side room to manoeuvre back in to the game. At the other end, Drogba beat Reina but also the post as he looked to curl a thirty-yard freekick home after Gerrard had scythed down Lampard, earning the Liverpool skipper a yellow card.

Torres, who had scored eight goals in seven Premier League games prior to this match, was then guilty of missing an absolute sitter when Gerrard's deflected shot was directed into his path. Under pressure from Terry, Torres fired wide, but the Spaniard should have hit the target with Hilario poorly-positioned.

But that was not to be the worst miss of the game by a Liverpool player, for that dubious honour would be awarded to Yossi Benayoun, a second half substitute. However, by the time the Israeli had fired wide from close range, Chelsea were 2-0 up thanks to a substitute of their own; Florent Malouda. Drogba picked up a loose ball and then left Carragher for dead as he powered into the area. Echoes of Anfield 2005, where Drogba left Sammi Hyypia chasing shadows were evident, and the Ivorian's cross for Malouda to poke home was similar to the delivery to Damien Duff in that famous win under José Mourinho's tutelage.

The game ended with Chelsea top of the league heading into the international break. Normal service is resumed.

___________________________________________________________________

Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Hilario; Ivanovic, Carvalho, Terry ©, A Cole; Essien; Ballack, Lampard, Deco (Malouda 75); Anelka, Drogba

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Insua (Aurelio 83); Mascherano, Lucas (Babel 75); Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera (Benayoun 66); Torres

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 26 - John Terry

Liverpool-Terry.jpg

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yea terry was throwing himself in front of everything, truly inspiring.

although his performance was followed closely by ashely cole, hilario and drogba.

every time i see ancelotti in press conferences and on the sidelines etc it just feels right, scolari always looked uncomfortable with his feet in all sorts of positions and his tracks suits all hanging out like he just got out of bed.

analyzing such simple things can tell you so much .

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