Liverpool walked into Stamford Bridge. Liverpool walked all over Chelsea’s jubilant mood. Then Liverpool walked away victorious.
As the words of the anthem go “Walk on, walk on. With hope in heart! ‘Cause you’ll never walk alone!” the club and the players and the manager walk on. There was a look of calm assurance about the way the team took to its task. In a way it was as if Liverpool had gained an extra player on the pitch with the sale of Torres. Based on Torres’ performances this season, baring his audition for a transfer to Chelsea, his inclusion had in effect reduced Liverpool to ten men. Now, with Torres gone, Liverpool are back to full strength and the results are showing it.
King Kenny fielded a team that featured neither of our two new January recruits. He called on the same group of players that, with Torres’ “help”, failed to deal with the likes of Blackpool and Blackburn. But somehow in losing one player Liverpool have gained a team. A team that was easily a match of the best that Chelsea could field. They started with an attacking line that is easily worth £100million which included their new signing. The script was written and the stage was set for Torres to justify his reasoning for submitting a transfer request by scoring against the former colleagues he has effectively branded as incapable of challenging the top teams in the land. Someone forgot to circulate that script to Liverpool!
Liverpool in their new formation nullified any threat Chelsea could muster. In Maxi’s embarrassing miss we had by far the best chance of the first half. Twenty minutes into the second half Torres walked of the pitch. Walked alone off the pitch after an inept 65 minutes of football! Three minutes later he was a pitch-side spectator and Meireles thumped in a Gerrard cross. A lonely moment, I’m sure!
Liverpool’s victory at the Bridge, formerly a fortress for the home team, Chelsea now finds themselves 10 points behind first. Though still in with a chance they certainly have a mountain to climb. Which begs the question, which titles does Torres stand to win this season? At the midpoint of the Champions League Chelsea are still in the hunt but certainly do not strike fear in their continental rivals. Chelsea are out of the Carling Cup but I’m sure Torres is relishing the FA Cup fourth round replay against Everton.
With a title far from guaranteed this season a top four finish is all that remains. But even that cannot as yet be taken for granted. Chelsea are equal on points with Spurs and Liverpool are six points behind. A two game swing and Liverpool could easily find themselves in the driver’s seat in the chase for a Champions League berth. League form has swung dramatically as King Kenny has exerted his influence. In the last five games Liverpool have managed thirteen points from a possible fifteen – the best record of any team in the league in the last five! Four of those victories have come by way of consecutive clean sheets. There have also been two consecutive away wins – the first since Bolton (29/08/2009) and West Ham (19/09/2009) were both beaten 3-2.
Liverpool and Chelsea have strikingly similar run-ins which include home fixtures against Man U, Man City and Spurs. Liverpool will face a trip to the Emirates while Chelsea will visit Old Trafford. It will be a tough ask for Liverpool to overhaul the deficit but it is not outside the realm of the possible.
Thus, as Liverpool’s fortunes are beginning to point firmly onward and upward Chelsea and Torres’ are in flux. The remaining weeks of the season will tell all. The only thing guaranteed is this…
…for those in red at least…
…and with hope in their hearts…
YOU WILL NEVER WALK ALONE!