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 international did not betray any nerves on his Premier League debut, helping silence the disappointing Luis Suarez. 133443414328299-1

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international did not betray any nerves on his Premier League debut, helping silence the disappointing Luis Suarez.

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 international did not betray any nerves on his Premier League debut, helping silence the disappointing Luis Suarez. Empty international did not betray any nerves on his Premier League debut, helping silence the disappointing Luis Suarez.

Post by asdfghjk on Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:21 pm

Jose Mourinho can change his line-up, change his mood and change his wardrobe but what rarely changes is his remarkable ability to keep setting his team up so adroitly against the heavyweights.
Love him or loathe him, he remains the man for the big occasion, a ruthless prize-fighter in the points game. Cantankerous and calculating, Mourinho is still the special tactical one, totally changing the Premier League picture here.
Manchester City are now favourites for the title, after a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace which still leaves them third but with a game in hand and a point behind Chelsea and three behind leaders Liverpool. City also boast a superior goal difference. Liverpool could be third when they play next.
Mourinho played down Chelsea's chances but no one was listening. This is a real three-way title chase, the first genuine such race for years, and Chelsea have every chance of winning it. Mourinho dressed down for the big occasion here, but his teams are cloaked in intelligence, knowing the game-plan, rigidly drilled defensively and skilled at the potent counter. It is far from beautiful but it is effective.
In the Premier League this season, Mourinho's Chelsea have done the double over City and Liverpool and taken nike mercurial vapor four-point hauls off Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham. They adopt a rope-a-dope approach, defending in numbers, absorbing the blows before springing out, either seizing on mistakes, as Demba Ba did when Steven Gerrard slipped, or when former Reds star Fernando Torres ran 50 metres before squaring for Willian to make it 2-0, sending Mourinho wild in celebration. He clutched the Chelsea crest on his puffy vest, holding it out towards a group of Liverpool fans, who responded splenetically.
He did not care. Mourinho seems on a revenge mission whenever he visits Anfield, never having forgotten the way Liverpool defeated Chelsea with Luis Garci­a's "ghost goal" to reach the 2005 Champions League final. The sight of Garci­a being presented to the Kop before kick-off will have simply added to Mourinho's resolve.
In the marathon that is the Premier League, Liverpool have hit the wall, a blue wall constructed by Mourinho. Branislav Ivanovic was magnificent deputising at centre-half, dominant in the air and on the ground, ably assisted by Tomas Kalas. Having represented Chelsea for a minute apiece in the League Cup and Champions League, the 20-year-old Czech international did not betray any nerves on his Premier League debut, helping silence the disappointing Luis Suarez.
Chelsea's fullbacks, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ashley Cole, were models of mobile defiance, dealing well in turn with Raheem Sterling and Liverpool's fullbacks. Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel patrolled diligently in front of the back-four, breaking up Liverpool moves. Frank Lampard was a captain of industry and responsibility, enjoying keeping Gerrard at bay.
Andre Schurrle was tireless running up and down on the left until cramp slowed his movement. Ba was occasionally ungainly but always relishing his physical battle with Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel.
Individually, Chelsea were excellent in a momentous victory but this was a triumph rooted in collective work under Mourinho at Cobham. In resting the likes of Gary Cahill before the Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, Mourinho simply prepared his starting players so well. He prepared them to spoil the party.
Liverpool fans had been full of hope as the morning melted into milky afternoon sunshine. They lined the streets around Anfield, waiting for the team bus to appear and occasionally bursting into "We're going to win the league". Ninety minutes before kick-off, the bus inched through the Shankly Gates as fans held their camera-phones to record a moment they hoped would become historic, an entry in the scrapbooks as they seek a first title since 1990. Brendan Rodgers stepped from the bus, followed by players with emotionless faces.
As Gerrard marched through the players' entrance, the captain of that 1990 side, Alan Hansen, strolled through the main entrance. The Liverpool family was gathering as usual. Ian Rush, John Aldridge and Kenny Dalglish also walked in. Garcia was special guest. The Kop launched into You'll Never Walk Alone. It all seemed set for another Liverpool win, a 12th on the spin, another case of Gerrard's "We go again".
Not here. Not with Mourinho in town. Chelsea's players were ready and waiting, their ambush primed, their game plan inelegant but effective: to draw the sting from the usual early Liverpool storm. They actually pressed hard, refusing to allow Gerrard and company to settle. They wasted time. Ivanovic probably set an all-comers' record for early running down the clock after 85 seconds. Mourinho's own early attempts at time-wasting were ended by Jon Flanagan and Gerrard, who grabbed the ball off him.
Chelsea were in uncompromising mood. Cole escaped censure for clearing out Suarez, leading with his arm. Every Chelsea player contributed to the defensive work through fair means nike hypervenom phantom and foul. Ba covered back to block a left-foot Suarez shot. Lampard brought down Sterling. Ivanovic made two vital clearances.
Chelsea were also increasingly threatening going forward. Cole raced down the left, flinging in a cross that Simon Mignolet pushed away. Lampard curled in a corner that Kalas headed wide before kicking the post in frustration as the Kop sighed in relief. Chelsea seized the lead on the cusp of half-time. The wound to Liverpool's ambition was self-inflicted. Sakho rolled the ball square to Gerrard, who was central as usual, preparing to build another attack.
Gerrard inexplicably allowed the ball to run under his foot then slipped trying to recover, gifting possession to the lurking Ba. The striker sped towards the Kop, controlling the ball with his right foot before placing it firmly under Mignolet and in.
As Chelsea celebrated, the Kop immediately sang in support of their rueful captain. Chelsea fans reminded Gerrard that he had previous with such errors against them, notably with an own goal in the 2005 League final and in the Premier League in 2010 when his back-pass was intercepted by Didier Drogba, who scored, helping Chelsea eventually beat Manchester United to the title.
This was a test of Liverpool's resolve but they were tired in mind and body, incapable of eluding Chelsea. Azpilicueta stopped a Sterling run. Cole thwarted Glen Johnson. Ivanovic ushered Gerrard into a cul-de-sac. On it went. Mark Schwarzer comfortably held a couple of Gerrard shots and saved a Joe Allen volley.
Chelsea were giving everything. Schurrle looked shattered but he kept running, even testing Mignolet with a curling shot, before collapsing with cramp and being eventually replaced by Cahill as Chelsea switched to a back five. Cahill blocked Sterling's way to goal. Cole nicked the ball off Johnson. And there was another sting in the tail as Mourinho's subs combined: Torres sprinted through and calmly squared the ball to Willian, who confirmed that the title race is now a thrilling three-way affair.


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