A spirited second half performance saw Chelsea beat Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. French duo Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda were on target.
The first half saw chances limited for both sides, and the goalkeepers at both ends of the pitch didn't have much to do. Neither side came up with too many eye-catching moments.
The second half was dominated by Chelsea, and they were rewarded in the 59th minute, when Anelka put them in the lead. Malouda, in the first minute of injury time, doubled the lead with an easy tap-in.
Here is how I rated the Chelsea players on their performance:
Hilario - 6.5
Didn't have a lot to do, since the Liverpool attack did not cause much trouble. He made impressive saves on the few occasions when tested.
Branislav Ivanovic - 6.5
He definitely isn't the same attacking threat as Bosingwa, but did his defensive duties well. Wasn't really troubled by Riera.
John Terry - 7.5
Led by example. Gave very little space to the opposition attack. Dominant in the air. Good performance.
Ricardo Carvalho - 7
Dealt with Torres well. Did his job efficiently. Often moved forward to supply balls to the attack. He's getting back to his best.
Ashley Cole - 6
Mostly got the better of Kuyt, and kept him quiet. However, he hardly ventured forward to give width on the left, like he normally does.
Michael Essien - 7.5
Ensured that Gerrard wasn't a threat in the middle. Was useful going forward too. Played a good cross for Anelka to head, which was one of the few real chances in the first half.
Michael Ballack - 7
A dominant performance in midfield. Distributed the ball well. Could have scored with a header in the first half. He'll play better in a more central role, rather than on the right.
Frank Lampard - 6.5
Energetic throughout. Won possession in midfield in the build-up to the Anelka goal. However, even now not terribly comfortable at the tip of the diamond, and thus, couldn't contribute as much as he would like to.
Deco - 7
Played a nice pass to Drogba on the left, who crossed for Anelka to score. He uncharacteristically showed bursts of pace at times. His presence was helpful to the Chelsea midfield.
Nicolas Anelka - 7.5
He gave the Liverpool defense a hard time with his tireless runs and link up with Drogba. Dealt well with an awkward cross to tap in and score.
Didier Drogba - 8
Easily the best man on the pitch. Two assists, one a brilliant cross to Anelka, and the second, he out muscled two opponent defenders, and gave Malouda an easy tap in. The only negative was that he went to ground too easily.
Florent Malouda - 6.5
Came on late, and thus didn't feature much, but credit must go to him for getting himself into such a good position to score the second goal late on.
My thoughts on the match
Being a Blues fan, I'm absolutely thrilled. This win was badly needed to hit back at critics, as well as turn our Premier League campaign back in the right direction.
We played well, and thus there is no reason why we shouldn't be satisfied. Our season is back on track. Soon enough, Joe Cole and Yuri Zhirkov will be fully fit, and we can only be happy about that.
As for Liverpool, many would start ruling them out of the title race. But coming to such a conclusion so soon would be foolish. More than three-fourths of the season still remains, and with the quality of Liverpool, underestimating their ability to make a comeback would be ridiculous.
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