Fernando Torres Lights Anfield on Fire as Liverpool Takes Down Chelsea
It has been a long while since Anfield erupted with ebullience and joy. One might had to go back a few months or even a year to see how Torres en-kindled the entire stadium whenever he took the possession and marched towards the goal. No other than Torres wanted those goals more than anyone else against the defending Champions, Chelsea.
He has now bagged six goals in five games against the Blues, with the promise to come more from him. Chelsea travelled to Merseyside with every belief to stop the mini-revolution Liverpool had been putting on in their wins in the last three games in all competitions. On the other hand, the Reds were determined to stop the Chelsea steamroll and make life difficult for Carlo Ancelotti's men.
Two sublime strikes from Fernando Torres in first half saw Liverpool bring the important three points home. And for the first time in these three months Liverpool played with the hunger and intensity which was missing from the team since the 2008 season.
Torres made all the headlines for the right reasons, as expected, but for the first time or so Roy Hodgson looked as his 30-plus years experience in managing football was something but the waste.
To start the game with a virtual 4-4-2 formation with Kuyt pairing Torres up front was the first step in a positive and attacking football we were going to witness that night. The changes that Roy made saw Martin Kelly, the 20-year-old, filling the right back; Johnson being not available; and Carragher returning to his usual position at the heart of the defence.
Steven Gerrard and Lucas were given the responsibility to cut the supply through midfield and Gerrard laid deep to ensure the perfect cover for the four in defence. Some might argue that Gerrard works and delivers best when given a licence to roam free behind Torres, indeed, however this task was handed over to the flying Dutchman and he executed it perfectly.
Employing Gerrard deep in midfield was a master stroke from Hodgson. Gerrard could defend well, to make sure Liverpool do not concede a goal, and attack when opportunity arises.
Lucas Leiva was the most effective player, according to me, on the night. What a game he's had. The unfashionable Brazilian showed the critics, like me, that given enough time and direction he could well become a top midfielder in the game. Every time the ball was near him, he made sure to cut off the supply to the likes of Anelka and Kalou and quickly hand it over to Meireles or Gerrard to start an attack.
Gerrard was his usual dynamo. He pocketed Ramires throughout the evening with tackles, passes and possession. Ancelotti would not have missed Essien and Lampard more than in this game against the performing duo of Gerrard and Lucas.
When the ball was possessed in the central midfield, Gerrard made sure he lashes it to Meireles and Kuyt to keep supplying the Liverpool No. 9.
Torres showed the glimpses the player he was some ten months ago by going into the tackles to win back the second ball. He tore apart Terry when received the inch-perfect looped pass from Kuyt and netted for the first goal in just 11th minute. He tormented the Chelsea back line, in Terry and Alex, and reminded us the humiliation Vidic received at Old Trafford 18 months ago.
After the 2-0 lead in first half, Roy's job was to make sure the players do not get carried away and concede any goals. Kuyt showed the perfect example how to stop this. Although he was paired up with Torres, time and time again, he rescued Liverpool to stifle Mikel in the central midfield.
Jamie Carragher was again at his best position in centre of the defense than at right back where he did not have to deal with pacey wingers, their advanced passes and crosses. Skrtel and Carragher stood very firmly on the edge of the box and stopped the low crosses from Malouda, Cole and Zhirkov.
Reina made two saves which could have changed the course of the game. Drogba's introduction in the second half was predicted as glorious as Steven Gerrard's in the mid-week win over Napoli in Europa League, only to fail. When Malouda's point-blank shot from Drogba's low cross saved by Reina Chelsea knew this was not their night.
Maxi and Meireles were out in the wide, as usual, and did well to stop Ivanovic and Ashley Cole advancing further. Meireles could do better if he's played in centre than out on right or left, however, Hodgson did not have a choice as Joe Cole was injured.
As for the Italian coach, he failed to send Zhirkov and Ashley Cole up against the newbie Martin Kelly constantly relying on the left wing for majority of the attacks. Winning the midfield battle was, and has always been, crucial in this fixture and Ancelotti lost it to Roy this time.
Ancelotti and Chelsea could not withstand the perfect Mersey storm, and, the reborn Torres and resurgent Liverpool.
For Roy Hodgson, things are becoming easier now as he steers Liverpool to their fourth consecutive win in all competitions. If he could continue playing the attacking football like Liverpool played against the League leaders Chelsea, the fans would finally accept him as their own.
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