I don’t know about you but three domestic matches ago I was full of confidence for this season. An unbeaten Liverpool were playing impressive football. And, even when they weren’t, they were winning. Three consecutive domestic defeats later, out of the Carling Cup, and having lost to arch rivals Manchester United and Chelsea in the space of four days, I’m somewhat less optimistic now. Here’s what today’s papers have to make of last night’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge…
The Guardian’s David Hytner discusses Peter Crouch’s second half red card, just moments after Frank Lampard had given Chelsea the lead.
In his youth, Peter Crouch would dream of pulling on the blue shirt of his heroes Chelsea and taking centre stage at Stamford Bridge. When the Liverpool striker returned to the club last night, he claimed the headlines for the wrong reasons.
As Frank Lampard and Andriy Shevchenko conjured the goals that sent Chelsea through to the Carling Cup semi-finals, Crouch was dragged down by a costly rush of blood.
Disappointing for Crouch, but a ‘œrush of blood’ happens from time to time. But that was just one moment of the game. Hytner continues’¦
There is rarely much between these rivals and even with a weakened Liverpool line-up, it appeared that something abnormal, something freakish perhaps, would be required to prise them apart. So it proved. Lampard’s goal was the decisive moment and it went in with the help of a cruel deflection off Jamie Carragher.
Benitez however leapt to the defence of his tall striker after the game, blaming Obi Mikel’s two late tackles on Crouch which had gone unpunished for causing his temper. He said, “That decision finished the game. Mikel tried to kick Crouch twice. That is the reason Crouch lost his head. If the referee blows his whistle before you avoid the sending off.”
However The Telegraph’s Henry Winter had little sympathy for Crouch and Liverpool:
Blue was the colour, with strikes from Frank Lampard and Andrei Shevchenko deservedly sweeping Chelsea into the semi-finals of the Carling Cup, but red was the colour for Peter Crouch, deservedly sent off for a two-footed lunge at John Obi Mikel.
Incidentally, the Carling Cup semi-final draw was made shortly after the final whistle at Stamford Bridge last night. Chelsea play Everton whilst Arsenal take on North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The local rivals also meet in the Premier League this Saturday.