Liverpool Club Focus – Win over Chelsea shows Reds are fulfilling potential

Liverpool extended their unbeaten run to nine games following an excellent 2-1 win over title-chasing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Reds have now collected 22 points in the Premier League this season – a tally which is also shared by Andre Villas-Boas’ Blues, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

Spanish striker Fernando Torres had been the main focus of attention in the build-up to the game for obvious reasons, however the £50m man was only named on the bench for the fixture, with Ivorian hit-man Didier Drogba preferred instead. Midfield maestro Raul Meireles, who joined Chelsea from Liverpool on transfer deadline day in the summer, and Andy Carroll – Liverpool’s £35m signing – also failed to start.

Dalglish did hand Maxi Rodriguez his first league start of the campaign, as Stewart Downing dropped to the bench. The Argentine winger made the most of his opportunity by finding the net after 33 minutes. It remains to be seen whether the manager will keep Maxi in the first-eleven when the Reds face in-form Manchester City next weekend.

But in the end, the game was won by a defender. Attack-minded full-back Glen Johnson, a former Chelsea player, latched on to Charlie Adam’s terrific pin-point pass before making a brilliant solo run past the Blues’ shaky defence and slotting the ball into the net with just minutes remaining on the clock.

There has been much debate about whether England’s number one right-back still deserves to be first-choice for the national team, with many arguing that the likes of Micah Richards and Kyle Walker should replace Johnson. However, while he still needs to convince on his defensive abilities, Johnson is undoubtedly one of the greatest attacking threats from the back in the top-flight and appears to be a Fabio Capello’s favourite.

But Johnson could not have clinched all three points without the help of the fantastic Charlie Adam, who has become a vital component in this Liverpool team following his long-awaited move from relegated Blackpool in the summer. It was Adam who quickly closed down John Obi Mikel in the build-up to the Reds’ first goal and he also provided the assist for Johnson with a pass former favourite Xabi Alonso would be proud of.

Adam has often run the game in the middle of the park for Liverpool in the absence of Steven Gerrard, and while some had doubts about whether he would be able to perform at such a high level for a bigger team, Adam is proving his doubters wrong.

The partnership between Adam and Brazilian midfielder Lucas has been excellent in many games this season and this has been one of the main reasons for Liverpool’s good start. Lucas has improved season-on-season and is now looking like an adequate replacement for Javier Mascherano, who moved to Barcelona the summer before last. Both Lucas and Adam make the Liverpool side tick.

Whether Liverpool can repeat this performance against table-toppers Manchester City next weekend remains to be seen, but based on the result against Chelsea and the confidence gained by Dalglish’s side from it, the Reds could just be the team to bring City’s unbeaten run to an end.

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