October 27, 2008

Horse 929 - Keep the Blue Flag Flying High?

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Scolari admitted he wasn’t too disappointed with his side’s performance and bemoaned Liverpool’s good fortune in front of goal.

“I think we played a normal game against Liverpool. It’s a derby and we created three or four good opportunities,” said the Chelsea boss, “They had more luck than us and they make a goal.”

Somehow I don't agree with Scolari. Notwithstanding the fact that Chelsea v Liverpool is not a derby, I question his theory that Liverpool had more "luck".

Victory for Liverpool was fully deserved, as is their place at the top of the table. Whatever Chelsea make of the outcome, the visitors gave another indication that they may become champions of England for the first time since 1990. This piece of evidence clicks into place beside the comeback against Manchester United at Anfield last month.

This game made fewer demands. The margin of victory might have been wider, Rafael Benítez's side almost doubling their lead in the 62nd minute when Xabi Alonso's free-kick cannoned off a post.

The Gaurdian (sic) conceeds that Liverpool deserved its victory. Perhaps Scolari was looking at the match facts:
Shots (on Goal)
Chelsea - 17(2) Liverpool - 11(3)
Chelsea - 4 Liverpool - 1
Time in Possession
Chelsea - 60% Liverpool - 40%
Chelsea - 2 Liverpool - 2
However, the match facts don't entirely tell all of the story.

What this shows is that Chelsea held the ball for longer, sprayed it around more often and made more forays into offside territory. Perhaps almost ironically it shows that they spent more time paddling the ball around their back 4 than Liverpool did. This was the real story of this fixture.

With two sides both unbeaten and on 20 points heading into the fixture, what should have been a definate display to attack and take 3 points, turned into something that could have easily been a snore draw. In fact even Alonso's 9th minute strike only went in because it took a wicked deflection off of Jose Bosingwa.

It also shows the power of mastering conditions at home. Chelsea were unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in their previous 86 matches - the last team to do so was Arsenal on February 21st, 2004 during their season unbeaten.

From there the match more or less lost its spark. Chelsea although made the odd thrust into Liverpool territory found that a Benitez managed side still is very good at the counter, and rather than press on at the 18th yard box, they were content to sit at about 35 yards away and we all know that hitting from out there is optomistic at best, unless you pull something brilliant out.

How Ironic do these two articles now look?


Either way, I have one eye and it's red and Chelsea are feeling blue. Liverpool top o'the league and 23 points is their best ever start to a season... ever.

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