Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool

The last time we won at Stamford Bridge it was thanks to a goal from Bruno Cheyrou (about all he contributed in his time here). Since then, the only side to take 3 points back from the Bridge have been Arsenal, back in February 2004. Chelsea's unbeaten league record ran for 86 games, over four years.

A lot of people had been saying, in the build-up to the game, that we could do it. I wouldn't have disputed for a minute that we could, but I wasn't expecting us to actually do so: I'd gladly have settled for a point before the game. Even though it must be pointed out that Chelsea were missing Drogba, Essien, Joe Cole and Ballack, we were without Skrtel and Torres ourselves, while several others had been rated doubtful (I think it was known in advance that Keane wouldn't play for more than an hour or so).

We had a bit of luck scoring first, when Alonso's shot took a deflection, and I was worried that we wouldn't be able to hang on - but with a lead to protect we defended like lions (or something more renowned for defensive abilities: maybe like a team of Jamie Carraghers?). In fact, I felt sorry for Agger being the only one of our back five not to make Garth Crooks' team of the week on the BBC website. So good was our defence that Reina hardly had a save to make - though he did claim a few crosses.

Chelsea will no doubt point to their loss of attacking options, but they were reduced to pumping hopeful long balls into the box - in a way that might have proved more effective had Drogba, rather than Anelka, been leading the line. Later on, John Terry started to venture forward, but was effectively neutralized by the introduction of Hyypia.

In fact, it was Liverpool that looked more like scoring another. Substitute Babel redeemed himself for some indifferent performances with a lively half-hour (including a near miss), while Alonso struck the post from a free kick.

Nothing's won in October, but hopefully this hugely satisfying performance and result will give us confidence for the coming months. I don't want to get carried away though - I remember being top of the table in November 2002 only for it all to fall apart. We need to consolidate this result by beating Portsmouth and Spurs - which will be all the more difficult following their recent changes in management.

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