The indisputable league leaders Chelsea arrived at Anfield against a midtable Liverpool team and… parked the bus. Why? Jose Mourinho only knows. A team filled with world class players against a club in something of an identity crisis, and yet the only time we actually saw Chelsea come close to scoring was thanks to a dodgy penalty they got, with Eden Hazard converting.
And after the match? Classic Mourinho: “A draw was the right result.” It was the right result because that was Mourinho was aiming for the moment the first whistle was heard. But Chelsea hardly did anything to deserve a draw, let alone a win. If it wasn’t for a huge day from Thibaut Courtois between the posts, we’d probably be hearing complaints and excuses from the master of those.
This isn’t last year. Mourinho made the changes he wanted to his team. Chelsea are a much better football club than Liverpool. His players are superior in almost every position. It certainly looked that way for very short moments of time. When Chelsea felt pressed to attack (rarely) it seemed like they had no problem whatsoever to take control of the pitch and get near the penalty box. They didn’t really put the Liverpool goal at risk, but there was possession in the danger area.
So why not just play cautiously instead of giving up on winning completely? Anfield has its charm and intimidation factor, but it hasn’t been working all that well this season. Chelsea are bigger and better than this lore and myth about a stadium pushing a team to victory. There wasn’t anything special or unique about the atmosphere last night. Chelsea simply didn’t look for goals unless they happened to stumble upon them.
And that’s how they scored. Eden Hazard began falling before Emre Can created any sort of contact with him. It shouldn’t have been a penalty kick, but the more Mourinho complains about some conspiracy against him and his players, the more obvious it is that reality is working in a very opposite direction. Few teams have enjoyed gifts, mistakes and overlooking on pitch violence as much as Chelsea have this season and in the previous one.
We will see a very different style of play in the second leg. Chelsea have no reason not to play attacking football, even if Oscar is out and Jon Obi Mikel is playing instead of him. But the cynicism, ppsychological tricks and other ploys Jose Mourinho has up his sleeve won’t stop. That is the man. Even when he as a team capable of playing wonderful football he’ll prevent them from doing that. Why? That’s his way of thinking. Why take risks when there’s no need to take one?