After The Match 


Chelsea-Liverpool 1-0 (1-0)          17.09.06                         PL
Goals: Drogba (42)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Warnock, Agger, Carragher, Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko, Pennant, Kuyt, Bellamy
Subs: Aurelio (Warnock 55), Zenden (Sissoko 67),
Crouch (Bellamy 78)
Not used: Dudek, Hyypia
Yellow: Warnock (4), Sissoko (45)
Boulahrouz (26), Drogba (30), Cech (90)
Red: Ballack (51)
Referee: Mike Riley
Attendance: 41,882
Shots on target: 3-6
Shots off target: 3-6
Possession: 55-45
Fouls conceded: 15-20
Corners: 1-3
Offsides: 2-4
Yellow: 3-2


"We need to get going."
     Rafael Benitez

1909: Getting into stride soon key to title hopes
1809: Benitez fails to get his reward
1709: Benitez: We deserved something
1709: Jose backs Riley red
1709: Drogba downs Reds

Getting into stride soon key to title hopes

By Mark Lawrenson - Daily Post

It's absolute rubbish to suggest Liverpool's title chances were finished by losing to Chelsea on Sunday.

If Manchester United had won on Sunday then it would have been tough because of the amount of games you have to win and rely on them losing to catch up.

Yes, they're a few points behind but they've only played four games and a couple of home wins this week will put them right back up there.

But that's not to say that winning the Premiership could be beyond Liverpool very soon.

In fact, if they don't turn things round within the next month then they can pretty much forget it.

What happens in that time depends on Rafael Benitez. Simply, he has to decide on his best XI and stick with it.

All this changing things round is stopping Liverpool getting into any sort of stride.

It didn't happen at Sheffield United on the opening day and a month later we're still waiting.

Even in the modern game, you need a certain amount of continuity in a team because you still need relationships and partnerships to build up.

If a right back and right midfielder play together over time they get that understanding of each other's games, something you can't buy.

It's the same with centre-halves, central midfielders, strike partnerships.

If you keep changing these combinations, you're swimming against the tide every week.

The odd change in football is always going to happen but by swapping a number of personnel every week you're not letting them evolve.

And that makes it really, really difficult because you're falling behind your main rivals straight away.

You only have to look at the most successful teams of the last 15 years of Premiership football, Manchester United and Arsenal.

It's always been obvious what their best starting line-ups have been and even in the past two years with all the players Jose Mourinho has had at his disposal, you can pretty much predict what his favourite XI is week in, week out.

Simply, if you change your team I don't think you can win the league.

And if you do have a settled team and you are losing games at least then you can point to something specific. If you keep changing it, then it's very hard to clarify what the problem is with the team.

And yet, the performance against Chelsea suggests there isn't that much wrong with the way Liverpool are playing.

It's just that teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United can go on nine or 10-game winning runs. They have all had a hiccup this season but if they go on one of those runs it could be too late for Liverpool.

After all, resting players so they are still in good shape come March or April is fine, but the gap might be too big by then.

It might be a long season but that's only when you get to March. Nobody is tired in September.

I also worry about the relationship between Rafael Benitez and Steven Gerrard.

Benitez is a really good manager and has done a great job at Liverpool but not making Gerrard the player he builds the team around could be fatal this season.

At Chelsea on Sunday he was on the left, which is all very well. He is Liverpool's best player and we know he can play anywhere.

But Benitez has to decide where to put him because he makes everything happen.

When Gerrard doesn't play they are 25% down in creativity, with the goals he scores and chances that he creates.

In a settled team he would be much happier with whatever position he was in, in the centre of midfield or not.

So what I hope this week is that Benitez just goes with what he thinks is his best XI in two homes games. Newcastle and

Tottenham are just sitting up and begging for six points to be taken off them at Anfield.

And supposing Liverpool are two or three up in these games with 20 minutes to go, then make some changes and give players that rest.

The win is in the bag, and the players won't be burning themselves out.

So it's time to settle on that best XI and run with it - then hopefully it will produce that win-win situation.

Benitez fails to get his reward

By Ian Doyle - Daily Post

Disappointed Rafael Benitez yesterday insisted his team deserved more after falling to another Premiership defeat at Chelsea.

Didier Drogba's magnificent 42nd-minute strike was enough for Jose Mourinho's side to claim a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.

It was Liverpool's second successive Premiership defeat and leaves them eight points adrift of the Londoners, albeit with a game in hand.

Liverpool wasted a clutch of clear openings with Chelsea having played most of the second half with 10 men following Michael Ballack's 51st-minute sending off for a stamp on Mohamed Sissoko.

But the visitors were denied a clear penalty by referee Mike Riley 14 minutes from time when Frank Lampard shoved Steven Gerrard to the ground inside the area.

However, Benitez admitted his team's profligacy in front of goal was the main reason for a sixth successive Premiership defeat to Chelsea.

"It was a clear push by Frank Lampard on Steven Gerrard," said the Liverpool manager. "But I suppose we can also talk about Mohamed Sissoko and whether he should have been shown a second yellow card, but we cannot change the score.

"We were a little unlucky. If you analyse the game as a whole, I think we deserved more.

"I think in the first half we created clear chances through Kuyt and Gerrard and we were controlling the game, but one player changed the game.

"In the second against 10 men we were much better in the wide areas, we managed to get in crosses and shots and we created chances against a good team."

Liverpool have now failed to score in their last three games, but Benitez remains confident his team will find the target if they continue playing in the same vein of form.

"The positive thing is that in the last three games away from home we have created more chances than the home team," he added. "But there's still plenty of time for us to start scoring goals. If you create chances then you will score again. I am sure that Kuyt will score goals for us, as will Crouch, Bellamy and Fowler if we keep creating the chances.

"I have confidence in the team if we continue playing like this. It is clear we are improving but we need to start getting three points, it's a long race and we need to keep going as we're still only in the beginning of the season," he added.

Of Drogba's winner, Benitez said: "We conceded a goal because Drogba is a good player, not because the team made a mistake. Sometimes you cannot control every situation on the pitch and it was a very good goal by a good player."

Benitez: We deserved something

By James Pearson - Sky Sports

Rafa Benitez believes Liverpool deserved something from their trip to Chelsea on Sunday.

The Reds left Stamford Bridge with nothing thanks to Didier Drogba's stunning winner shortly before half time.

However, it was all the visitors after the interval following Michael Ballack's dismissal for stamping on Mohamed Sissoko.

Benitez knows his side have made a slow start to the campaign, after losing their last two Premiership games, but now wants the team to push on.

"I think we deserved more from the game," Benitez told the club's official website.

"In the first half we created clear chances through (Dirk) Kuyt and (Steven) Gerrard, but one player won the game for Chelsea with a fantastic goal.

"We started the second half creating more chances and getting into good positions.

"The push on Gerrard by (Frank) Lampard was a clear penalty, but we cannot change these things now.

"It's clear that we need more points, but it's only the beginning of the season and it's a long race. We need to get going."

Jose backs Riley red

By James Pearson - Sky Sports

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho believes referee Mike Riley was right to dismiss Michael Ballack against Liverpool.

The Blues had to play most of the second half against Liverpool a man light after Riley deemed the Germany international to have stamped on Mohamed Sissoko.

Despite being on the back foot for virtually the entire second half, Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch both squandered chances as The Reds suffered back-to-back Premiership defeats.

"It was a deserved red card," said the Portuguese tactician. "He told me he did not go in to hurt the guy but the rules are clear."

Mourinho was in awe of his side's winner with Didier Drogba superbly lashing home with a left-footed volley from outside the box.

"It was a fantastic goal, a fantastic victory, incredible spirit and unbelievable desire," he continued.

"For the spirit I think we deserved the three points."

Meanwhile, Ballack has revealed he has apologised to Sissoko for his challenge that resulted in his first straight red card of his illustrious career.

"It's a bad situation for me," said the ex-Bayern Munich ace. "It is the first straight red in my career.

"I didn't mean to injure him. I've just seen him now and I've said sorry."

Drogba downs Reds

By Mandeep Sanghera - BBC Sport Online

Chelsea increased the gap over title rivals Liverpool to eight points after a stunning Didier Drogba winner.

Drogba swivelled and powered in a shot from 18 yards to put the Blues ahead before the home side's Michael Ballack was sent off for an apparent stamp.

Steven Gerrard spurned the best chance for the visitors when he shot straight at keeper Petr Cech from eight yards.

Liverpool were denied a penalty when Gerrard seemed to be pushed before Peter Crouch missed with a late header.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho had waited in the tunnel for Reds counterpart Rafael Benitez prior to kick-off as the antagonism between the pair appeared to have been eased with a shake of the hands.

When the action got under way, Chelsea slowly started to exert some authority against a Liverpool side that was sitting back and trying to sting the Blues on the counter-attack.

Chelsea struggled to break down the discipline and organisation of the Reds, while the visitors were let down by some stray passing.

But Reds striker Dirk Kuyt almost unlocked a cagey first half when a defence-splitting diagonal ball from Xabi Alonso left him with a clear sight of goal.

Kuyt made powerful contact with a rising, angled drive but agonisingly saw it come back off the crossbar.

Frank Lampard saw a 25-yard free-kick easily gathered by keeper Jose Reina, while at the other end Craig Bellamy had a shot saved as the rival teams enjoyed yet another tight affair.

It needed a moment of brilliance to break the deadlock and Drogba produced it when he chested down Lampard's ball, with his back to goal.

In one move the Ivory Coast striker swivelled and unleashed a left-foot, half-volley with such speed and power that it left defender Jamie Carragher stunned and Reina rooted to his spot.

Mohamed Sissoko was fortunate not to be sent off for a second bookable offence after a foul on Lampard before Gerrard came close to equalising just before the break.

Gerrard cut in from his left-midfield position and decided to shoot from a tight angle - instead of crossing for better-placed team-mates - only to see his shot sail shot sail high.

Chelsea suffered a setback when Ballack was red-carded for a rash 51st-minute challenge on Sissoko when it appeared he stamped on his rival midfielder's leg.

The visitors slowly started to capitalise on their advantage in numbers and created a glorious chance for Gerrard, who saw a fierce shot from eight yards blocked by Cech.

Arjen Robben had a penalty claim waved away at the other end when he was the filling between a Carragher and Daniel Agger sandwich as the game opened up.

Liverpool's turn to be incensed came when they were not awarded a spot-kick for what appeared to be a Lampard push on Gerrard.

The visitors had chances to pull level but lacked a cutting edge and Crouch headed straight at Cech late on to sum up their frustration.

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Thor Zakariassen