A defiant Jose Mourinho sent his Chelsea team out to defend and capitalize on the odd chance Liverpool would afford them. Mourinho’s tactics were able to subdue their offensive fire power as Chelsea was able to overcome Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield.
While fans and media pundits stewed all week as to the personnel Mourinho would elect to choose as his starting 11, there was never any doubt as to the tactics he would play. From the onset, Chelsea had 10 men hemmed back protecting their penalty area. Any chance Chelsea had to delay the game, they took full advantage of. For as negative as Chelsea played, referee Martin Atkinson was more than obliging in allowing their time-wasting tactics.
Some were fascinated by the matchup of the league’s best attacking side against the best defensive side. As Liverpool pushed and pushed, trying their utmost to break Chelsea’s iron curtain, a slip by Steven Gerrard was pounced on instinctively by Demba Ba, who went free in on goal and nestled the game winner under Simon Mignolet just before the halftime whistle.
Mourinho proved his tactical genius once again, as Liverpool was unable to find the final ball, be it pass or shot, to even the score line. An extra time Willian goal was the icing on the cake for Chelsea supporters.
How does this result affect the Premier League title race?
Liverpool will remain top of the league with their 80 points through 36 matches. Chelsea is second with 78 points through the same 36 matches played. Both Chelsea and Liverpool have two games remaining; neither control their title destiny.
Manchester City, currently underway in their Sunday afternoon fixture away to Crystal Palace, possess 74 points through their 34 matches (Crystal Palace will be game 35). If Liverpool and City win their remaining games, they will finish with 86 points each. Thanks to their superior goal difference, City would be champions should they tie atop the table.
Meanwhile, Chelsea will require at least two points (realistically three, thanks to the aforementioned goal difference) dropped by both Liverpool and City if they hope to truly muscle their way into contention.
As the final weeks of the 2013-14 Premier League season draw nigh, it is advantage City. The tiniest of slip-ups by the sky blue team from Manchester can change everything, though. Stay tuned.