They talk of a magical trio, but in the truth it’s just two players – Eden Hazard and Juan Mata that are truly special. Oscar still has some consistency and physicality issued to tend to before he can be considered as good, giving Chelsea a truly unique threesome that plays behind a striker, Fernando Torres, that can’t seem to provide the right kind of outlet to his talented teammates.
Every time Torres plays Liverpool, it seems to get to him. Anfield, when it is actually red-hot instead of a subdued stadium like it has been for plenty of times this season, is a difficult venue to play in. Yet Chelsea played the right way in the first half, eliminating Suarez from effect and kept Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard from pushing through the lines with clever possession and excellent defending from Ramires and John Obi Mikel.
It’s no wonder that the goals came from the three – Juan Mata finding Oscar with the cross, then Eden Hazard scoring a penalty kick. In the second half it was a different story, with Benayoun and Moses coming on for Hazard and Oscar, giving Chelsea wider look that didn’t really do any good in the final minutes of the match. Juan Mata was also replaced by Frank Lampard in the 91st minute, only to see Chelsea concede from the bench.
But there is a price to be paid for basing your plans on so much talent, without having the right kind of toughness all-around to back it up. Don’t expect that toughness to come from Fernando Torres, who looks like a person lost on the football pitch three times out of every four or five matches, his scoring drought in the Premier League now stretching to 997 minutes. But the midfield and defense, which used to be a real scourge in Europe, is caught in some in-between phase. David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic are big lads, but even they were over powered and beaten to submission by the aggressive Reds in the second half, sometimes bordering on slight violence, allowed by a horrible Kevin Friend, another one of England’s terrible referees, a list that keeps on growing every season.
And in the end, with their opponents winning their matches, Chelsea felt like a loss. Because they were bullied for 45 minutes, and because they conceded a goal after more than six minutes of stoppage time, which was itself quite an borderline kind of decision. They still hold the keys to the kingdom, which means a Champions League finish, but they made it a lot harder to come through by dropping points that shouldn’t have been.