Monday, February 7, 2011

Warning: Yawning is Contagious

photo by Hey Paulvia PhotoRee

It's Blue versus Red, Chelsea versus Liverpool, with Fernando Torres making his way to the opposite side of the pitch from the men who were his teammates a mere six days ago.

Torres starts singing from his new songbook slightly off key, as his first touch of the ball ends up in the stands high and wide of the Liverpool goal.  The two teams take some time feeling each other out, with neither side showing great fluency in attack in the game's opening twenty minutes. Much like the Super Bowl that occurs later today, the early action is not living up to the week of hype that has led up to the game.

Although Chelsea show occasional glimpses resembling a threat, at the 25 minute mark the game is still waiting to burst into life as neutrals around the world stifle a yawn. Liverpool seem lacking any type of a cutting edge up top, and to rely on Dirk Kuyt for his goalscoring prowess is to set yourself up for failure.

Fernando Torres announces his intent to stamp his mark on the game as he's slotted though by Drogba, but it's Carragher to the rescue with a block. At the other end, Cech is quickly tested for the first time, but it's a minute or two later when Maxi Rodriguez misses a sitter on a through ball from Gerrard, and his lack of quality is appaling.  

For all the attacking talent on Chelsea's side of the pitch, it's Liverpool who appear marginally the more dangerous of the two sides heading into the break. The most entertaining moment of the first 45 occurs right at the end, as Cech and Ivanovic engage in a heated verbal spat at the doorstep of their own goal line.

The second half begins with more of the same general malaise, although Glen Johnson tries to lift it with a laser in the general direction of Cech. Chelsea try their luck at set pieces, hoping Reina's weakness in the air can be exposed. An hour in and there are still only a few real chances that have developed, although Chelsea appear to be winning -- if just -- the battle of the crowded midfield.

Solomon Kalou comes in for an ineffective Torres in the game's 65th minute, leading to sustained cheers from the traveling fans, who waste no time in telling their former Ladyboy that he should've stayed with a real club. Hell hath no fury like a Scouse scorned.

When the inevitable goal comes, it arrives at the foot of Raul Mereiles, as Cech is shockingly hesitant on a Steven Gerrard cross into the box, and the Portuguese wingman makes no mistake as he ghosts in on the backpost following the play. It's Mereiles' fourth goal in his last five games, and prompts the Dapper Don to introduce of Florent Malouda into the game.

Newboy David Luiz also enters the game, after apparently sticking his wet finger in an electric socket, thus explaining his ringlets and slightly dazed appearance.  I'm guessing the Portuguese press never told Luiz that he wasn't joining the best side in England, and he certainly didn't expect to be entering a game at Stamford Bridge in which his new side was on the short end of the scoreline.

Chelsea grow increasingly tense as the clock ticks down, and Liverpool seems to grow in confifdence as the eighty minute mark nears. Soon after referee Marriner correctly disallows a handball in the box on Lucas, Fabio Aurelio tests Petr Cech with a stinging shot but the Chelsea keeper is up to the task this time.

When Branislav Ivanovic is dumped like a sack of potatoes in the box without yielding a penalty on Glen Johnson, the Chelsea fans looked stunned as the clock ticks down on their title chances. Chelsea fall for the seventh time this season, and maybe -- just possibly -- the King Kenny regime is finally starting to turn things around.

This is farlieonfootie for February 7.

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