Chelsea take on Liverpool in the Premier League at the Anfield in what looks like a repeat of the 2013-2014 Premier League season, as Manchester City will be hoping for a favour from the Blues, but here is why the fans Cityzens should not count on a repeat of Chelsea’s famous win over Liverpool five years ago.
Chelsea stunned title-chasing Liverpool five years ago with a backs-to-the-wall performance made famous for Steven Gerrard’s slip. For any fan who doesn’t want to see the Premier League title in Merseyside for the first time in 29 years, a repeat performance from the Blues on Sunday would be the perfect tonic. However, Chelsea die-hard Callum West has bad new.
Five years ago Chelsea travelled to Anfield to take on a Liverpool side seemingly destined to win the title, then Gerrard slipped, Ba pounced, Mourinho ran down the touchline and the rest was history. On Sunday we visit again in similar circumstances, hoping for the same outcome – is there any chance that Chelsea can derail their title challenge again?
For many Chelsea fans that’s probably as big an incentive as the potential to gain a foothold in the race for the top four. Due to distance, Liverpool may not seem like the most obvious rival for Chelsea but after Tottenham and Arsenal, it’s one of the first fixtures fans look out for at the start of the season. Chelsea’s rivalry with Liverpool is a 21st-century update of the 60s and 70s rivalry we had with Leeds. Like that rivalry, it’s north vs south, the perceived proper football men against the flash cockney upstarts.
Much like the Leeds rivalry, it intensified after a series of hard-fought, high profile matches which festered a genuine antipathy amongst the players, managers and fans of both clubs that while perhaps not as intense as it was in the days of Mourinho and Benitez endures until this day. For those of us in the away end on that Sunday in 2014 it will always live long in the memory.
I have been to Anfield when you could hear a pin drop but I was also there for the 2005 Champions League semi-final where the atmosphere generated was up there with any match I’ve been to and the crowd genuinely felt like the 12th man.
2014 MATCH FACTS
Liverpool: Mignolet 7, Johnson 7.5, Skrtel 7.5, Sakho 6.5, Flanagan 6.5 (Aspas 81), Lucas 5.5 (Sturridge 58), Gerrard 7, Allen 7, Sterling 5, Suarez 5, Coutinho 5
Subs: Jones, Toure, Agger, Alberto, Cissokho
Manager: Brendan Rodgers 6.5
Chelsea: Schwarzer 7, Azpilicueta 8, Ivanovic 8.5, Kalas 8, Cole 8, Mikel 8, Matic 9, Salah 6 (Willian 60), Lampard 7, Schurrle 7 (Cahill 77), Ba 7.5 (Torres 84)
Subs: Van Ginkel, Ake, Hilario, Baker
Manager: Jose Mourinho 8.5
Goals: Ba 45, Torres 90
Booked: Lampard, Salah, Torres, Cole
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
Player ratings by DOMINIC KING
In and around the ground during the build-up to the game, it felt as though it might be a game like the latter. Fans lined the streets singing and setting off flares and there was an expectation in the air. However, a confident start from our makeshift team led to a growing nervousness around Anfield and even before Gerrard slipped it was Chelsea voices ringing around the famous stadium.
There was bedlam in our section of the Anfield Road End when Ba stuck the chance away and if Willian adding an injury time winner just as the Kop launched into their traditional full time rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was the icing on the cake, then Mourinho sprinting down the touchline to celebrate with our jubilant fans was the cherry on top of it. Unfortunately for Chelsea fans, the fact that it is April and Liverpool are going for the title are where many of the similarities stop between the fixture in 2014 and the game on Sunday.
Although we have now won three league games on the spin, albeit against two of the bottom half and a mid-table West Ham, and the recent starts for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi have a least renewed some of the enthusiasm in the stands that has been severely lacking for months.
We have for much of the season looked a long way off the top two of Man City and Liverpool, yet in 2014 we were in genuine competition with them, challenging for the title ourselves. While Mourinho had rested several key players as the fixture was between two legs of a Champions League semi-final with Atletico Madrid, his Chelsea were far better and made of infinitely sterner stuff.
His side had visited eventual champions Manchester City in February and inflicted their first defeat of the season on them. Whether City will be champions this season remains to be seen, Sarri’s Chelsea went there in February and were humiliated 6-0. We came up just short in the league and Europe that season, but there was a genuine feeling that we were a couple of players away from being a great side (we signed Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa that summer and won two of the next three titles), there was enthusiasm and optimism surrounding Stamford Bridge.
On the other hand, despite early season optimism and performances away to Burnley and Southampton that offered a glimmer of hope that things might come good should he remain manager next season, watching Chelsea under Sarri has at times been as joyless an experience as there has been in my 28 years following the club. Chelsea now seem as far away from competing for the title as we have been for over 20 years.
Despite Mourinho picking a weaker side that day he was a brilliantly pragmatic manager, who would change how Chelsea would play depending on our opponents and his tactics that day completely disrupted the rhythm of Brendan Rodgers’ side and massively got under their skin. Sarri has shown little signs of adapting his possession-based approach regardless of it offering scant results since the turn of the year and despite this approach having seen us ship 11 goals in three defeats to the other top six sides we’ve played away so far this season.
Mourinho almost embodies our rivalry with Liverpool, seemingly the beating heart of the fans on the touchline, Sarri has done little to ingratiate himself to Chelsea fans and the relationship between those who regularly fill the stands at Stamford Bridge is essentially non-existent.
Indeed, earlier in the season in one of his few memorable interviews he expressed his fondness for Jurgen Klopp and shared an anecdote about an embrace they had shared after the German’s side had just scored a last-minute equaliser against us. That is just not the way things should be between Chelsea and Liverpool. I really hope I’m wrong, but I’d say to anyone who thinks that we’re in for a repeat of 2014 or to any City fans relying on Chelsea to do you a favour – I’d absolutely love it if we do but don’t get your hopes up too much.