ANFIELD, Liverpool — Liverpool suffered a disappointing and damaging 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday, a defeat which began after a slip-up by Steven Gerrard in first-half injury time.
The Liverpool captain failed to control a pass near the centre circle with no defender behind him before also slipping on the turf, allowing Demba Ba to run in and open the scoring for Chelsea.
A similar defensive error saw the match end 2-0, with Chelsea scoring at the end of second-half injury time as well.
While Gerrard's initial error might have cost the Reds a shot at a point or three on this occasion, there should be no finger-pointing his way when a number of others underperformed to a far greater extent.
From Hero to 0?
From the first to the 45th minute, Gerrard was Liverpool's best player.
The No. 8 snapped into challenges, won the ball in the air numerous times and picked up second balls in midfield after possession was initially lost.
It was Gerrard who fizzed the ball around the park, raising the tempo whenever possible and using the full width of the pitch with Liverpool starting with wide forwards in a 4-3-3.
In truth, Chelsea's defensive shape, unwillingness to commit numbers forward and resistance to pressure meant that the home side struggled to break them down too often in that first 45 minutes, though there was no doubt Liverpool were on top.
Gerrard was a key part of that, recycling, probing and inspiring.
Then came the slip, the goal and a defeat from which the team didn't recover.
Gerrard has never been one to shy away from raising his own performances in the big games. Indeed, for too many years he was the only one Liverpool could really look to to pull out a miracle when the chips were down.
Against Chelsea, determined to make up for his own error, Gerrard attempted to seize the initiative and force the issue, breaking defensive lines with his own dribbles from deep, shooting from range with power, then trying again with curl.
Unfortunately, this time around that was exactly what the Reds didn't want.
A more patient and composed approach was called for, with greater movement and tempo—not a lung-busting, all-action, chop-through-rock style.
In that regard, Gerrard was perhaps the worst player on the pitch the error could happen to, as he tried to make amends, doing everything he could to be the one who finally picked the lock. More to the point, he smashed down the door and everything behind it.
Gerrard can't be criticised for that—Brendan Rodgers refused to do so in his post-match interview—because, at the very least, he tried different approaches to get through Chelsea's packed back line.
"We Go Again"
Nobody has looked like investing more in this recent run of Liverpool wins than Gerrard.
He leaves nothing on the pitch, and once a few hours or days of disappointment have passed, he and his team-mates will look at the league table and realise they are still at the top. Furthermore, Chelsea could not hope to catch them even with a win at Anfield.
Two games, six points.
Liverpool need to focus on Crystal Palace and a way to beat Tony Pulis' in-form side. Gerrard will be key to that approach.
The best way to make amends for a slip and defeat he can no longer do anything about? A perfect tactical performance, composed and creative, to beat the Reds' next rivals.