Kenny Dalglish's Tactics Earn Liverpool Victory Over Chelsea
Starting three centre-backs, Liverpool neutralised a potent Blues' forward line which included former Liverpool star Fernando Torres. The build-up to the match was understandably dominated by Torres, following his transfer deadline day move from Anfield to Chelsea.
And after 90 seconds, it seemed Maxi Rodriguez hadn't been told about the transfer. The Argentinean—under little pressure—played the ball straight into the path of Torres, who could only fire high and wide.
But this was the only gift Torres would get from Liverpool, as the away fans relentlessly taunted their former hero.
He even got a smack in the mouth from Daniel Agger, after the Liverpool defender caught Torres late.
Chelsea lined up with a formidable forward threesome of Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka. However, while there were one or two signs of an understanding forming between Torres and Drogba, Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti may have to rethink how—if at all—he can incorporate all three in the same team.
With Drogba and Torres both preferring to play in the centre, Anelka was forced to drop deeper and deeper in order to find space. But Lucas was excellent in the holding midfield role once again, and the space was hard to find.
Dalglish—who welcomed back Jamie Carragher after missing three months through injury—continued with the same formation that earnt a Liverpool a victory over Stoke midweek.
Carragher lined-up alongside Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel in a three man defence. The extra man prevented Drogba and Torres from getting the space that makes them so dangerous. And when Torres did manage to get the right side of Skrtel, Carragher was there to block the Spaniard's shot.
With Chelsea playing a narrow midfield of Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Mikel, they were reliant on their fullbacks for width. Liverpool had an even more packed midfield. Lucas played just behind Steven Gerrard and Maxi, while Raul Meireles took on a more advanced role.
The difference came through the Liverpool fullbacks. Playing in roles that were popular in the Premier League during the mid-1990s, Martin Kelly and Glen Johnson were given the freedom to get forward at will.
Knowing that they had cover from the back three and Lucas, they pegged back the Chelsea fullbacks, making the home side one dimensional.
Johnson had a hand in creating the best chance of the first-half. Following his burst into the Chelsea box, the ball broke to Gerrard who centred to Maxi. The midfielder had the simplest of tap-ins from three yards out, but—to the amazement of all—could only smash the ball against the bar.
Should Kenny Dalglish be given the Liverpool job on a permanent basis?
Nevertheless, Chelsea became frustrated, and after a defensive mix-up goalkeeper Peter Cech lost his temper with defender Branislav Ivanovic, the two almost coming to blows.
Liverpool looked rejuvenated under Dalglish. Dirk Kuyt tirelessly lead the line as new signing Luis Suarez was named on the bench. Disciplined in defence, the Reds attacked with confidence and freedom.
The travelling fans greeted Torres' substitution after 66 minutes with obvious delight. Shortly afterwards, they had a goal to celebrate as well.
Gerrard broke free down the right, and his cross eluded both Cech and Ivanovic, allowing Meireles to pounce at the near post. After an indifferent start to his Anfield career, Meireles is quickly becoming a fan favourite and now has four goals in his last five games.
Even with the introduction of Florent Malouda and Chelsea's other big money signing David Luiz, Pepe Reina was rarely troubled in the Liverpool goal.
The win lifts Liverpool into the top six for the first time this season and it will add credence to the ever increasing calls for Dalglish to be given the top job on a permanent basis.
With the freedom that Dalglish was given to make big money signings last week, you've got to think that John W. Henry and Co. are starting to think the same way.
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