Liverpool Focus - Rodgers' tactical switch brings deserved point at Stamford Bridge
Limp. Lifeless. Lacklustre. Liverpool’s first-half performance against the European champions, Chelsea, could be described as such. Roberto Di Matteo’s high-flying side were unable to make the most of some excellent chances in the opening period. Little did they know that those missed opportunities would come back to hurt them.
Brendan Rodgers’ men, who have learnt much about playing well and conceding first through their own experience this term, upped their game after the break and were rewarded with an equaliser. Unsurprisingly, Uruguayan star Luis Suarez was the scorer, with that header taking his tally to eight Premier League goals this campaign. No other player has scored more goals in the top-flight this season.
Rodgers’ side lined up in an unfamiliar 3-4-1-2 formation, with Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique playing as wing-backs and Raheem Sterling playing in an advanced role alongside Suarez. Liverpool’s switch to three at the back against rivals Everton in the recent Merseyside derby appeared to work, but not on this occasion. Some poor defending allowed the hosts to take a deserved lead through skipper John Terry, who later went off injured. Something had to change if their opponents, who had previously beaten Chelsea in their last four league meeting, were to stage a comeback.
One criticism of former Swansea boss Rodgers is that he does not have a ‘Plan B’, but he did manage to pull a trick from up his sleeve after an hour. Nuri Sahin, the midfielder on loan from Real Madrid, was sacrificed. His replacement was the inventive young Spaniard Suso, whose introduction sparked Liverpool into life. The visitors seemed more comfortable with a more familiar 4-2-3-1, with Johnson switching to left-back and natural left back Jose Enrique pushing further forward into a midfield role.
Suddenly, the Reds looked bold, confident and daring. There was a sense of urgency about Liverpool’s play, which had previously been missing in the opening 45 minutes. Daniel Agger, Suarez, Enrique and Suso would go on to try and test Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal. Predictably, it was Suarez who pulled a goal back with less than 20 minutes remaining on the clock. What many supporters could not have predicted or even believes was that defender Jamie Carragher was the one who provided the assist.
Enrique, who had one of his better games in a Liverpool shirt, could have won it with a good effort at the death as the visitors finished on top. In isolation, the Reds’ result at Stamford Bridge was a respectable one. But there may be slight concern when looking at the bigger picture. Rodgers’ side have won just two games from 11 in the Premier League this season, collecting a disappointing 12 points. That leaves them sitting in 13th place, seven points behind neighbours Everton who currently occupy that final Champions League spot.
Next up for Liverpool is a clash against the side directly below them, Wigan Athletic. There is a feeling that the Anfield outfit will need to start picking up more wins sooner rather than later if they are to finish in a reasonable position come the end of the campaign.
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