This game was projected to be exciting and boy, did it produce. Both teams came out of the blocks with a point to prove, yet it was Chelsea who walked away victors with a thrilling 2-1 win and all three points.
Things looked red at Stamford Bridge as Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel passed a knocked-down header past Petr Cech. It seemed like it might be another dominant performance by Liverpool, yet to Chelsea’s credit, that opening goal only seemed to spur their side into the kind of performance that they have been looking for all season. Eden Hazard put in a brilliant shift, topped off by a cracking long-range effort. Samuel Eto’o added the winner with a picture-perfect poachers goal.
The trio of Hazard, Willian Borges da Silva and Oscar moved fluidly across the width of the pitch, and the work-rate of the whole team was very effective in pinning back the Reds. The pressing game that has worked wonders for Liverpool so far this season was used today to pick them apart. Chelsea players intercepted the ball constantly and frustrated the Reds into hopeful passes.
The second half saw Liverpool maintain more possession and Chelsea change to a more defensive style to hold their lead after John Obi Mikel came on for a injured Frank Lampard at the half. To Liverpool’s credit, they were always in the game. There was always the feeling that if Luis Suarez or Rahim Sterling were given half a chance in front of goal, the momentum could swing in Liverpool’s favor. But those chances never came and it was really Jose Mourinho’s tactics that won the game for the Blues. The high-tempo pressing game of the first half made way for the defensive, counter-attacking one of the second half.
Mourinho’s undefeated home run as Chelsea manager was maintained and the Blues will enter 2014 on a high note.
Chelsea will travel to Southampton on Jan. 1, while Liverpool will host a Hull City side that handed them a defeat last time around.