Chelsea versus Liverpool is the most nerve-rattling of modern-day rivalries. A 21-year-old right-back smashing the top bin, a Brazillian centre-back surprising a Belgian goalkeeper from a free-kick, biting, slipping, Sturridge scoring when it matters, Kovacic playing into the final third and Jordan Henderson going for a worldie – this fixture has seen it all in the last few years. Both sides have also been England’s best European bet in the last decade, and now with the inevitable executed – both have also won the Premier League title recently.
However, both have followed different paths to the top. Chelsea has won and lost in patches, with an array of world-class managers soaring and sulking at the Bridge. Liverpool, meanwhile, has had long stretches of transition and now under Klopp for five season – have realized they got the right man at the right time.
To sum up the crazy which might find its way to an anxiety-disorder’s victim’s therapist, here are the top five Chelsea vs Liverpool moments from the last decade:
- Suarez Bites Ivanovic (2013)
Back in 2013, we all stared into the camera to find out what happened off-the-ball and then collectively clenched our eyes away. Seven years on, I still don’t understand the why of any of it. With Liverpool trailing 2-1, Suarez let his frustration known to the Serbian’s shoulder. Kevin Friend, understandably, couldn’t believe the accusation at that time and did not send him off. Later into added time, Suarez pulled a more Suarez moment than biting, by scoring the equalizer in the same match.
- 50 million pounds for a Spanish No.9 (2011)
Fernando Torres, in 2010, wasn’t just a generational talent or one of the best players in the world. He was a part of a no-depth Liverpool side which had done brilliantly a season before. The Kop pretty much relied on him pulling the numbers every season. Moreover, he was a style statement – one whose off-the-field charm reminded many of David Beckham a decade back.
So when he said yes to Chelsea and Ancelotti in the middle of a season in January ‘11, eyes turned and headlines shouted. Contrary to what many said and believed, Torres was anything but a shadow of a former self. His effort until the last minute in each game and an intention to keep the Bridge believing in him made him a favourite. He played for two more seasons after Martin Tyler believed he had paid off his transfer fees and won much more than he did with Liverpool, or Liverpool did without him. Hindsight is a gift.
- League Cup Semi Final (2015)
Early into the year, the two sides faced each other in the League Cup semi-final. Quite forgotten due to the PL taking much of the light that year, the semi-final was a really closely contested clash. Hazard gave Chelsea the lead from the penalty spot at Anfield, only for Sterling to equalize later on. Thibaut Courtois had one of his best games in a Chelsea shirt. An end-to-end game was only bettered by the fixture at Stamford Bridge. A 0-0 at FT saw the Blues goalkeeper as the hero again, and Diego Costa’s antics luckily avoiding the red card thrice. None of Costa, Henderson, or Lucas got sent off in a heated game which saw Branislav Ivanovic score the unlikely (really?) winner in the 4th minute of extra time.
- Cech saves the final (2012)
Straight out of the magical May of ‘12, the two sides met again – this time in the FA Cup final. Liverpool had won the League Cup a few months back and Chelsea was in the final of a slightly more reputed competition – something UEFA something.
\Ramires and Drogba had put Chelsea in front on the big day at Wembley, in a game in which Juan Mata outshone every other player on the pitch by a mile and a half. Minutes after Drogba scored in the 52nd, Kenny Dalglish brought on Andy Carroll, whose dominance in the box changed the run of flow. He scored ten minutes after coming on and gave the comeback a serious go. The English center-forward almost took it to extra time when he almost headed in from the far post, only for Petr Cech to pull off the save of his career. The save became iconic, only for it to be bettered by the Czech international’s heroics in Munich a week later.
- The four-letter word and Tomas Kalas (2014)
The game known for the infamous slip holds its tragedy for all that was ignored in the buildup and in-game. Liverpool’s 3-2 win against City took them to the top of a 3-way-race. Chelsea’s streak-breaking defeat to Sunderland at The Bridge almost ruled them out of it. With a UCL semi-final against Atletico Madrid lurking, Chelsea faced Liverpool at Anfield.
Liverpool’s 2013-14 attack was unlike any other in PL history. Suarez pulled off arguably the greatest individual season since ‘92, Sturridge notched up another 20 goals after moving from Chelsea and an aging Gerrard finished as the top-assister. Liverpool were firm favourites in that period of congestion for the Blues, until Jose Mourinho emerged out of the tunnel.
Down with fever (and so iconically wearing a jacket in an April afternoon), the Portuguese started none of the three centre backs that had made Chelsea resolute at the back that season. Instead, he shifted Ivanovic to the middle to partner a young Kalas, Azpilicueta to the right, and the biggest shock of the lot: a heavily bearded Cole returning on the left.
Ba and Willian scored at the end of each half, Tomas Kalas saw the media’s light in a heroic experience (in which he almost scored as well), Ivanovic controlled the Uruguayan who had a history of biting him and Mourinho pumped his chest. In hindsight, without this loss, Liverpool might have won the title and would have delayed Rodgers’ eventual sack. This would have led them to be late to a certain Jurgen Klopp (like the Blues) and the Premier League could have looked very different right now.