Club Focus – Chelsea – Meireles strikes again as Ancelotti is outsmarted by Liverpool’s Dalglish

The game on Sunday between Chelsea and Liverpool was one of the most anticipated matches in recent weeks. With the champions splashing nearly £75m on deadline day, fans were eager to see the club’s new signings in action. Carlo Ancelotti was quick to throw former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres into the starting line-up, in spite of the fact that the Spaniard had trained with his new team-mates for just a few days. Chelsea set out in their normal 4-3-3 formation, with Salomon Kalou and Florent Malouda being sacrificed. The Blues were all set to launch a strong attacking trio against the Liverpool defence, with Didier Drogba, Torres and Nicolas Anelka up front.

Liverpool on the other hand opted for a 3-5-1-1 formation, as the manager Kenny Dalglish looked to dominate the midfield area. Big money signing Luis Suarez was left out of the starting line-up and would not come on later either. By packing the midfield with five players, the Liverpool boss looked to take advantage of the one area in which Chelsea have lost a bit of quality since the summer. After the first half, it was easy to see that he had got things right, as his midfield smothered any Chelsea attack from building up. The Blues enjoyed a fair bit of possession but lacked creativity in delivering that final ball.

For Liverpool fans, witnessing Fernando Torres sporting a Blue jersey for the first time proved enough of a reason to jeer him every time he touched the ball. The Spaniard was limited to a very quiet performance and the few touches he had of the ball were not reflective of his transfer fee; this was evident when he came off in the second half and was replaced by Kalou, much to the delight of the Liverpool faithful.

As the second half progressed, it became clear that the game would probably be decided by a single goal, which ended up coming from the in-form Raul Meireles. Chelsea tried to muster up a response, but simply could not find a way past the Liverpool defence. The Blues were clearly not able to get going and looked a shadow of the side that came back so strongly against Sunderland last week.

It is worth mentioning that there were two strong penalty claims from the Blues, as Lucas was accused of a hand ball inside the box, and then Glen Johnson blocked off Branislav Ivanovic just as he was about to lay his head onto a Chelsea cross. However, they were both turned down by the referee, which just about summed up Chelsea’s luck this season. and the Merseyside club ran out 1-0 winners. What was even more impressive was that new signings Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll were not even needed for the victory.

Looking back, the Blues will undoubtedly be disappointed with the result. With Manchester United and Arsenal both dropping points on Saturday, it was the perfect opportunity for Carlo Ancelotti’s men to close the gap between the current league leaders. But now with another loss at home, it seems like Chelsea should forget about keeping their eyes on top spot, and perhaps concentrate on securing a top four position.

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