When the English Premier League season started, the play of Chelsea resembled a gladiator that had just been unleashed in the arena. No team seemed to be able to get around the Blues and their dominant style of play. While success has become more of a standard to Mourinho, one team found their weakness and managed to steal a win at the formidable Stamford Bridge. None other than London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. From then on, Chelsea have looked as fragile as any other team in the league. Even though they have kept up with their winning ways, they seemed shaky and other teams have recognised this by believing that they can take points from the league leaders. However, Chelsea’s strength and strong tactics that they started out with was seen once more when they faced Liverpool in the Capital One Cup tie.
Team selection played its part
Chelsea’s line up did not change much and Liverpool’s pretty much stayed the same with both teams’ striking force being headed by Diego Costa and Raheem Sterling for Chelsea and Liverpool respectively. After the whistle, both teams seemed to have the same strategy, which was to score early, win the ball and attack. The first five minutes were filled with frantic efforts by both sides to find the net but none of the teams could capitalise. The same pace rushed through the first half with an impressive 121 tackles recorded throughout the game.
Who played it best?
While Liverpool may have been more pleasing on the eye, Chelsea were more aggressive in their approach. As the game wore on, one thing that was notable was the positioning of Filipe Luis. With Liverpool lacking advanced wingers and Gerrard’s pace leaving his feet, the Brazilian had an easier time pushing them back and winning headers more frequently. In no time at all Chelsea had tamed The Reds and had the game in their control.
Another notable Chelsea performance was that of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. While Liverpool had some pretty impressive chances from Coutinho and Moreno in particular, Courtois was once again at the top of his game denying them time and time again. Once the pace had died down, Chelsea took over possession, but they could not take advantage of it. Courtois was still left to produce some impressive saves and thankfully the best of Chelsea was yet to come.
In the second half, Mignolet had to step up as Chelsea tuned it up a notch. Mignolet found himself needing to pull important saves out of the bag and also scuffle for quite a number of tackles, as the Chelsea attack seemed to have found its footing. In the last minutes of normal time, Chelsea pushed The Reds much harder but Liverpool were able to hang on by a thread to see the game through to extra time.
Once extra time started, it wasn’t long until the moment that Chelsea had sought for came calling. Ivanovic broke away from Glen Johnson to notch home a powerful header and from there they managed the clock pretty efficiently, much to the frustration of Liverpool. Chelsea displayed both tactical and strategic skill and it is safe to say that if this performance is anything to go by, then the teams in the EPL are in for quite a challenge, if they plan on rooting Chelsea out of their current position sitting at the top of the table.
Of course there was one sour note that Chelsea will have to watch if they’re to keep hold of their grip of the BPL. Diego Costa has now been charged by the FA following a vicious stamp on both Skrtel and Can. With Costa looking at a three game ban if found guilty by the FA, Chelsea’s best play may be almost over. Lux Bet have been paying close attention to the form of Chelsea as the market for Premier League champions is blown wide open.