Jose Mourinho's Liverpool Masterclass Shows Chelsea Aren't Going Away Quietly

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2014

After all the talk, all the jesting and speculation, it meant very little. Weakened team or not, Chelsea have blown the title race wide open with their 2-0 win over Liverpool.

With a team missing the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry, Ramires, Eden Hazard and Oscar, the Blues pulled off an unexpected victory at Anfield that owed as much to the tactical acumen of Jose Mourinho as it did the endeavor and desire of his players.

Defeat for Liverpool ended their run of 11 straight victories in the league (12 would have marked a new club record), while it also means the Reds can now win their remaining two games and still finish the season without holding the Premier League trophy aloft.

Chelsea remain second, two points behind the leaders, with City back in third but with a game in hand that could see them finish as champions.

At Anfield on Sunday, Mourinho's Chelsea were faultless, and Liverpool had no answer to what was a pragmatic display.

It's a term perhaps used too freely in the modern era, but for those looking for the definition of a masterclass, Chelsea's performance was it.

With Tomas Kalas making his Premier League debut at centre-back and a substitutes bench containing two youth-team products, the Blues knew they had to bide their time if they were to get anything against Liverpool.

Too many teams have been blown away in the opening exchanges at Anfield this term, and Chelsea knew better.

They were patient, composed andwhen the time called for itclinical, as Demba Ba and Willian scored the goals that silenced Liverpool.

That's where the quality lies in this team and Mourinho, in particular.

We've heard the criticism for much of the campaign, that Chelsea are a team who revel in the less glamorous side of the game, a team that is outright boring.

Try telling that to the thousands of Blues fans who made the trip north to witness a phenomenal display. Tell that to the players who, in three days' time, could have booked their place in a second Champions League final in three seasons.

Here's the point: Chelsea's methods, less appealing or not, overcame Liverpool's swashbuckling style on Sunday. It was style vs. substance, and the latter came out on top.

In contrast, Liverpool had no answer for the Blues' tactics.

Rather than being criticized, Mourinho and his players deserve the plaudits. With so much on the line, their game plan worked, their philosophy was the winner.

In games such as this, it's proved the case all season, too.

Chelsea have won home and away against title rivals Liverpool and City, while they have lost just once to any of the teams in the top eight.

On the road against those clubs, Chelsea have conceded just twice and scored seven. It's an impressive record that has seen them pick up 12 points from a possible 21.

Their overall record against the top eight this season stands at P14 W10 D3 L1.

When it comes to the big games, there really isn't a manager better than Mourinho at getting the best out of his players. He continues to outwit opponents, and having been so already this season, Brendan Rodgers was again on the receiving end of Mourinho's treatment.

Had it not been for some questionable performances against Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and more recently Sunderland—Chelsea losing on all three occasions—the title would have been wrapped up long ago.

The Blues will be lamenting that fact, although here they are with a fortnight remaining in the season and they're still fighting, still showing the very character that defines them and their manager.

Despite this win, there's still probably too much of a swing required elsewhere to ensure Chelsea finish as champions of England for a fifth time in their history.

Anfield shows they will not be going down without a fight, though.

It's not their style. It's not Mourinho's.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes


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