Liverpool and Chelsea shared the spoils at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but the visitors were arguably the better side and came closest to scoring – although both sides could only muster one shot on target each.
Peter Crouch had 3 chances to open the scoring in the first half and maybe should have done better, and late on Dirk Kuyt had a good chance when put through by Gerrard, but his first touch let him down and pushed the ball towards Petr Cech.
Crouch was playing a lone role up front, but was well supported by Gerrard, Kuyt and Ryan Babel, with Lucas and Javier Mascherano protecting the back four expertly. Mascherano, again, showed why he is worth every penny of the 17 million pounds transfer fee to make his move permanent.
In the back four, the recalled John Arne Riise had a comfortable match but it was Martin Skrtel who impressed in particular, following on from his good performance against Sunderland last week.
The result moves Liverpool back up to fifth in the League, with one game in hand over fourth placed Everton (and three points behind the Toffees), and level on points with Aston Villa and Man City – both of whom won this weekend.
Post Match Reaction
Rafa Benitez:‘œNormally to get a point would be a good situation against Chelsea. But after the game when in the first half we had some chances and in the second half we were defending well and had some half chances, it could have been three points. In the second half we had to defend more but we did that well and also had some half chances close to their box. We could have taken three points but it’s not easy when you play against a good team. I was pleased with the team, especially the first half performance because we created some really clear opportunities. Crouch had some good chances but as team we showed character and the commitment of every player was very positive.
‘œIt was against a very good team. All of them are very good players starting with their goalkeeper, so to create some chances is positive. If you cannot take your chances you know that is the difference between winning and drawing sometimes. Overall I would say to get a point here is not bad but when you have chances like we did to win here today you must be disappointed. The plan as always was to win the game and we didn’t play for a draw. We were attacking and did almost everything that’s needed for winning.
‘œWe now need to think about trying to take three points in every game we play. We now have two important games in the FA Cup and Champions League coming up and we need to think about them. In terms of our position in the table we need to keep working hard and play as we did today if it’s possible. If we can do that against the other teams then I’m sure we will start winning.
‘œEvery game is important for us and it doesn’t matter what competition it is. We want to finish in the top four and we need to think about the next three points at home against Middlesbrough, we have to keep working hard.’
‘œMartin (Skrtel) did well. His fitness was good and I think he will get even better because he is learning English, and tactically he will also improve the understanding with his teammates.’
Avram Grant: ‘œIt was a 100 per cent penalty but the only penalty I know is when the referee blows his whistle. He’s a good referee, he made a mistake, it happens. For us it’s not the first time this season so we are used to it. We are still chasing the title. I think I was a big physical pressure on a small group of players the last two months so maybe they are a little tired. But this is part of the game now. They did a good job until now and I hope they continue. Soon we will have more players back.
‘œWe are not happy. Every game we want to win especially at home. It’s a good feeling for us to play in front of our supporters and we didn’t play well this time, but it’s not easy to play against Liverpool. They are a very technical team and know how to play tactically and don’t give you much space to play.’
Teams and Facts
Chelsea: Cech, Belletti, Carvalho, Alex, Ashley Cole, Ballack, Makelele, Lampard (Obi 71), Wright-Phillips (Malouda 64), Anelka, Joe Cole (Pizarro 86).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Ben-Haim.
Booked: Belletti, Carvalho, Alex.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Skrtel, Riise, Gerrard, Mascherano, Lucas, Babel (Pennant 71), Crouch, Kuyt.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Kewell, Benayoun, San Jose Dominguez.
Booked: Babel, Riise.
Referee: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).