The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “The teams could not be prised apart but this was an afternoon when Liverpool’s spirits soared and plummeted. A likely victory was taken from them with the dubious award of a penalty by the referee, Rob Styles, whose form was so poor that he would have been substituted well before the interval had he been a player. Despite denials the footage suggests that, like Graham Poll at last year’s World Cup, he showed a second yellow card to a miscreant without dismissing him.”
The Independent, Andy Hunter: “These sides have made a habit of nullifying their opponents’ attacking edge beyond the boredom threshold in recent years and it was therefore an enthralled Anfield, and disgusted Chelsea bench, that saw the visitors prised apart and punished with beautiful simplicity by Gerrard and Torres in the 16th minute.”
The Times, Oliver Kay: “It started as a fairytale afternoon for Liverpool’s new darling, slowly turned into a nightmare for the referee as Chelsea fought back and ended, amid plenty of mud-slinging afterwards, with Rafael Benàtez talking about Little Red Riding Hood. If this is a sign of things to come in the Barclays Premier League title race, it promises to be a season full of twists, turns and a taste of the bizarre.”
Daily Telegraph, Tim Rich: “You can tell little by beginnings, but this was a match that showed the balance of power in the Premier League is very slowly shifting under the patent leather shoes of the big clubs. On Chelsea’s last two visits to Anfield, they had seen their hopes of a third Premier League and a first European Cup final drain away, and now they limped home to London grateful for a point.”
- The result. A point at Anfield must be considered satisfactory. Jose Mourinho insisted after the game that he wanted to win, but I believe, with the result at Eastlands in mind he went there looking for a point. Seven points after three games, five ahead of Manchester United, without really playing that well. I’ll take that.
- Claudio Pizarro. I continue to be impressed by the Peruvian and wonder why Mourinho persists with Salomon Kalou. Pizarro came on at half time against Reading and changed the game. Yesterday Pizarro replaced Kalou and again made a big difference. I’d keep Kalou on the bench and start with Pizarro and Didier Drogba. Bring on Kalou when the opposition is tiring.
- Shaun Wright-Phillips. John Arne Riise and Alvaro Arbeloa doubled up on him but he still played well and put in a few really good crosses. My man of the match for a third time this season.
- The penalty. It was not a penalty. But as Steven Gerrard pointed out after Liverpool’s game against Aston Villa last weekend, not long after he had conned Mike Riley into awarding him a free kick which ultimately cost Villa two points: “Villa shouldn’t be moaning about the decision … these things even themselves out over the course of the season.” How right he was.
- Referee Rob Styles’ performance. Styles turned what was a pretty good game into a yellow card infested farce… And apparently it was all our fault. The pressure put on Styles by John Terry et al was to blame. Liverpool’s players behaved perfectly and didn’t pressurise Styles at all. Jermaine Pennant, Steve Finnan and Jamie Carragher had the occasional quiet word in Styles’ ear, but that was it. Nothing more. Complete rubbish of course. The so-called haranguing of referees has become part of the game. Liverpool were equally at fault for surrounding Styles and putting pressure on him. Until such time as referees start sending players off (Michael Essien appeared to be dismissed for just this offence) it will remain part of the game and players will use it to their advantage.
- The ease with which Fernando Torres beat Tal Ben Haim. Torres breezed passed him as if he wasn’t there. Awful defending akin to Glen Johnson’s howler against Birmingham last weekend. The right-hand side of our defence remains a major weakness.
- We have conceded the first goal in all three Premier League games this season, as well as the Community Shield.
Man of the Match