Chelsea showed shades of old against Liverpool last night in the FA Cup. Glimpses of Ancelotti and Mourinho were written all over the victory against the European champions, and the Blue’s 2-0 win resurfaced memories of our title-winning sides of yesteryear.
Frank Lampard’s side came into the game against the current Premier League leaders on the back of a 2-2 draw to Bournemouth, where the defence was inept in dealing with Bournemouth’s attack.
Chelsea had to rely on Marcos Alonso’s late equaliser to share a point with the Premier League minnows – the performance was far from our best, but salvaging a draw against far weaker opponents has unfortunately become a familiar theme this season.
Fortunately for both fans and Lampard, Chelsea were back to their best against Liverpool in the FA Cup. It’s fair to say we operated in a gear close to our best, and rightly beat the Scousers on home turf.
The cup tie against Liverpool showed glimpses of the Chelsea of old, and Lampard orchestrated what was our best result of the season. The Blues were tight at the back and defensively solid, (something that hasn’t been the case this season) and devastating on the break.
With both Zouma and Rudiger putting in solid performances bar some early mistakes in the game, the Chelsea defenders shut out a potent Liverpool attack with Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso putting in a solid showing. Billy Gilmour in midfield exhibited combative spirit lunging into tackles, and kept the Blues ticking in the middle of the park, putting in a man of the match performance for us.
Previously outcasted Kepa Arrizabalaga made some important saves in the game, repaying Lampard’s faith in starting him. It’s no doubt that dropping him had its desired effect on the Spanish goalkeeper.
Chelsea defended unerringly as a unit, barely giving space to Liverpool and were devastatingly dangerous on the break. The victory further begs the question of whether Chelsea are better off playing a style of football with less ball possession, especially in big games. Defensive solidarity is paramount in achieving the desired results with a reactive style of football, and Chelsea showed exactly how to beat Liverpool, following the blueprint of Watford and Atletico Madrid. It further pleads the case that if we defend well as a collective and shut out opposition, we have more chances of winning games. Frank Lampard must make it his highest priority to work on Chelsea’s defence and encourage defensive performances like this one, in all our games in the future.
Liverpool dominated possession but had nothing to show going forward apart from a few chances. While on the other hand, Chelsea created chance after chance on the break with both Alonso and Mount hitting the bar from set-pieces as well. There could’ve been three or four goals considering how dangerous Chelsea looked creating chances on the break, especially considering this was against a Liverpool defence that included Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez, arguably the best centre back pairing in Europe.
The Blues were disciplined from the outset and showed a tireless work ethic to defeat a strong Liverpool outfit. This was only Liverpool’s fourth defeat of the season and Lampard masterminded yet another big game victory, this time against Jurgen Klopp, a manager far superior to Lampard.
Yes, results have been see-sawing and wavering this season. We have lost games when we’ve played below par, especially against Manchester United and other defeats to opposition in the bottom half. But this side under Frank Lampard, without any signings in the transfer windows, has shown that it can beat the best if we operate in higher gears and defend well as a unit.
The well-drilled and defensively solid showing of Chelsea against Liverpool drew glimmers of our old guard under Mourinho, Ancelotti, Hiddink and Conte.
Lampard borrowed from the pages of his old managers Mourinho and Ancelotti to turn the tide in favour of the Blues and the victory was a resounding one in front of the Stamford Bridge crowd.
The areas we need to improve, namely our home form (making Stamford Bridge a fortress just like it once was) and defensive performances, whether against top opposition or teams inferior to us, make vital importance for Lampard going into the end of his first season in charge and into the next one.
With new recruits such as Ziyech and probably Telles and more coming in, Lampard has the time to build a solid spine to Chelsea’s team. The summer transfer window is crucial and key for the Blues to recruit smartly just like Liverpool and Manchester City have done in previous windows. The incomings, coupled with the breakthrough seasons for Chelsea’s youngsters, gives Lampard time to forge a Chelsea team that can win titles.
The performance against Liverpool was our best this season. Rock-solid at the back, dangerous in attack and operated with a high propensity throughout the ninety minutes. This is how we used to perform at the Bridge. This is the Chelsea of old. This is the Chelsea we know and love. Now all that’s left is to go on and lift the FA Cup.