The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: "Victory for Liverpool was fully deserved, as is their place at the top of the table. Whatever Chelsea make of the outcome, the visitors gave another indication that they may become champions of England for the first time since 1990. This piece of evidence clicks into place beside the comeback against Manchester United at Anfield last month."
Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: "For Chelsea, the clocks went back more than an hour, rewinding four years to a time when they last endured the ignominy of defeat at home. For Liverpool, the clocks went back even further, reviving memories of the 1989-1990 season that climaxed in their last title."
The Times, Matt Hughes: "Luiz Felipe Scolari has been so successful in making Chelsea loved again that even neutrals have enjoyed watching them this season – perhaps for the first time since Gianluca Vialli’s free-flowing side were winning cup competitions almost a decade ago – but he was not supposed to make them popular with their opponents too."
The Independent, Glenn Moore: "Not until the 72nd-minute did Chelsea seriously threaten and even then Pepe Reina was not extended. The result moves Liverpool three points clear ahead of Chelsea and Hull City – who had lost at home to Torquay in the bottom division the day Chelsea lost 2-1 to Arsenal at the Bridge in February 2004. On Wednesday Chelsea go to Hull, while Liverpool host now managerless Portsmouth."
Official Chelsea FC Website, Andy Jones: "[S]o ends an 86-game run that started with defeat against Arsenal four-and-a-half years ago."
There’ll be a funeral this week. Maybe even tonight as us Chelsea fans finally celebrate the death of the monkey that’s been on our back for 86 home Premier League games. It was finally assassinated by a brutally efficient Liverpool team who came with a game plan built on the frustrations we displayed against Roma and exploited it perfectly. Raise a glass and smile at the thought of the record that will probably never be broken whilst those of us with blood coursing through our bodies are still breathing.
It was a nice monkey for a while. A chippy and chirpy little character that summarized the forging of the new power in South West London, but like all welcome new friends its diet of expectation grew and started to gain weight to the point where we nearly buckled during last season. Inevitably its increasingly bloated form took its toll, both on team and fans, the team becoming increasingly hesitant and timid at home, the fans less and less vocal with each game. In truth, as Liverpool aimed the sights of the gun, knowing the inevitable, we turned our back to face the bullet.
It was for the monkey’s own good.
- Blimey, a tough one here because very little about Chelsea as a team or crowd was good today. But unlike many others who may see this as a disaster I prefer to see it as a watershed. Like any death it is countered the birth of a new life elsewhere. This is the start of a new run. The chapter is over, let’s close the book and start a new one…
- John Terry. Absolutely magnificent and can count himself pretty aggrieved to be on the end of a defeat that whilst deserved, was in the end down to an unlucky deflection. It’s a shame a large proportion of the rest of the team couldn’t find the same determination.
- Jamie Carragher. I can’t stand the whining prick, but today he was the inspiration behind Liverpool being able to keep their nerve and stick to a well worked plan. Unlike Steven Gerrard, Carragher battled for everything.
- Liverpool. Yep, it sticks in the throat, but they out-tackled us today, out-fought us all over the pitch, defended superbly and forced us into a lot of errors from which we couldn’t recover. We ran out of ideas, whilst they didn’t need any.
- Liverpool’s fans. They out-sang us all afternoon. The best we could respond with was half-hearted renditions of ‘Carefree’ or ‘In Your Liverpool Slums’ or the vile chants of ‘Murderers’ and ‘You killed your own fans’ – that’s why we’ll feature in The Bad.
- Jose Bosingwa. A fine purchase for £16m. I’ve rarely seen such skill from any right-back in my entire life. Superb ball skills, he can trap the ball from any height and he can cross. Therein lays the only issue I have. There is fuck all point in crossing the ball in to the box when we have no players of any real height in there. So, he just needs some intelligence but honestly it’s a real nit-pick when compared to his ability.
- John Mikel Obi. Grows with each game and in the first half strode purposefully and confidently forward driving our admittedly unproductive attacks. Faded a bit second half but I reckon it was more down to lack of players running into space and generally failing to support him. He is very close to the gold standard ascribed to him by Jose Mourinho.
- The referee. Howard Webb is normally a good ref but today he gave just about everything he could to Liverpool. The second half was a litany of petty free kicks, mostly the way of Liverpool but it fragmented the game and made it bitty and scrappy. This played into Liverpool’s hands.
- Deco. Absolutely rubbish today. If he wants to be a Premier League star he needs to learn that delicate little flicks on wet October days won’t reach the intended team mate. Tackling in the Premier League is hard and fast and you won’t get anywhere near the time and space of La Liga. And for fuck’s sake show some fight will you. Today Deco’s attitude looked like the dictionary definition of apathetic.
- Salomon Kalou. Yep, the old nickname of Kalou-less was back today. I can’t think of a single successful contribution to the team and how Popeye thought he had done enough to come out for the second half is beyond me.
- Florent Malouda. One of the most improved players this season seemed spooked by tough Liverpool defending and ended up anonymous and hanging around the midfield like some shady impostor.
- The Chelsea crowd (pt. 1). I’m all for banter and baiting the opposition fans but today we joined the ranks of some of the scum that support Liverpool. Murderers? Is that really the best we can do? Do we really think that’ll get under their skin or perhaps, just perhaps does it ever occur to the fucking idiots singing that it might spur the Liverpool fans to sing harder and their team to play harder? They killed their own fans? Jesus, it’s as bad as singing the runway song to Manchester United fans, or the Hitler song to Spurs. It’s shameful and degrades us as fans, and the club. It puts us at the same level as those Liverpool fans who threw fresh shit onto Man Utd fans in the FA Cup a few years ago and tried to overturn the ambulance carrying Alan Smith to hospital.
- The Chelsea crowd (pt. 2). Okay I’ve moved from the cauldron of the Matthew Harding Lower to the comparative calm of the Matthew Harding Upper, but I can’t believe it’s because our tickets are £140 cheaper that we don’t sing up there. Seriously the only rocking part of the ground today was the part of the Shed occupied by Liverpool fans. If you thought the team were rubbish today then we, as fans, were a bubbling cesspit of fresh arse gravy. Maybe this home defeat and a timely reminder of our own fragility might bring a dose of reality to the fans and spur us on to sing like we used to.
- The midfield. During the second half Liverpool strode through the midfield with consummate ease. It was like our very own Bermuda Triangle right in the middle of the Stamford Bridge pitch.
- Deco. Ugly passing, ugly tackling, ugly positioning but most disturbingly an ugly attitude. The Elephant Man of the game. He may be a playmaker but in games like this, games of attrition as Liverpool games have become then Michael Ballack would always be my first choice in that position.
- Petr Cech: Assured at crosses and could do nothing for the goal. His distribution has improved markedly – 7/10.
- Jose Boswinga: Our best player today? Possibly – but a great prospect for our future success. A snip at £16m – 8/10.
- John Terry: Magnificent today and played like a true Chelsea captain – 8/10.
- Ashley Cole: Tired badly towards the end and missed a sitter with a full-back’s attempt at a volley, but still the best left-back in the country – 7/10.
- Ricardo Carvalho: Still fighting to get back to match fitness and like Ash he tired badly – 6/10.
- Frank Lampard: Subdued today and anyone who doubts how good his partnership with Ballack for the big games is should watch a replay of the game to see how Ze German is the much better foil for Frank’s efforts – 7/10.
- John Mikel Obi: Superb first half but frustration crept in second half with a couple of interesting challenges and (so I’m told) seemingly picking a fight in Liverpool’s area. Still a first choice on the team sheet and growing massively in stature and poise this year – 7.5/10.
- Salomon Kalou: Rubbish and only gets any points for putting the right shirt on – 3/10.
- Florent Malouda: Started well, but bullied out of the game by Liverpool’s nasty big boys. Needs to bulk up a bit and show some fight – 5/10.
- Deco: An absolute stinker today and I seriously can’t think of anything good to say about him other than his boots look quite nice. Shame they couldn’t control the ball – 2/10.
- Nicolas Anelka: Enigmatic presence as usual, but seems to prefer the Sparky role alongside another striker. I think him and Drogs or another real striker would be awesome but as a lone striker he just doesn’t have the power – 7/10.
- Juliano Belletti (sub): Bought on at a point in the game where it was obvious we weren’t likely to get anything and moved to right-back after Bosingwa went off hence reducing his effectiveness in midfield – 7/10.
- Franco Di Santo (sub): Looks younger than most of the 5th formers at my daughter’s school but performed well overall and with a little more support would have made a breakthrough today. One for the future – 7/10.
- Scott Sinclair (sub): Ran about a bit and tried hard for his nine minutes, but not much else – 6/10.
- Overall team performance: We started okay, but Liverpool had a plan which they stuck to and we had no response. A big lesson for Popeye today in the importance of tactics and guile in the Premier League – 6/10.
Man of the Match
A toss up between Bosingwa or JT, so I’ll give the new guy some credit and award it to him. For the game overall I think Carragher would be the most likely winner.
Overall I think it’s fair to say we deserved to lose the game. A draw would have been a get out of jail card. A win would have been… no simply impossible. Reina did not have one save of any worth to make today much like the league game last year. I am sure Popeye will learn from this and maybe at Anfield we can return the favour. I think it’s also fair to say that the loss of Essien, Drogba, Joe Cole and Ballack who all played in the Champions League epics were sorely missed today. Certainly I think Ballack would have provided much need stability to our confused and missing midfield. It’s games like this that you can really see how Ze German’s class is so sorely missed.
We lost the Premier League last year on a number of factors, not least of all the high profile departure of Jose Mourinho and uninspiring replacement Avram Grant, but an even bigger factor was flaky home form producing seven draws. That’s 14 lost points. I’ve no doubt that proud record should be celebrated but I am also glad it’s finally gone and now maybe the team and crowd can get back to enjoying our home ground. It also means Neil Barnett can finally shut his smug mouth before each game and just concentrate on reading the teams out. Like I say, I think this could be the dawn of a new age and a watershed for our season. If this game turns out to be the only one we lose this year then who’ll care come May?
Like any great boxer, accept the defeat, get back to the gym, train harder and get the hunger back. And in the rematch, just box clever.
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High – and start singing!