Match Report: Liverpool's Luis Suarez proves a man apart as Chelsea lose ground at the top

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Chelsea 1 Liverpool 1

Stamford Bridge

Luis Suarez celebrated his equaliser alone in front of the travelling Liverpool support, his team-mates electing to head back into their own half and prepare for the onslaught of the last 20 minutes of the match.

As it turned out, the image of a man apart suits Liverpool’s leading striker rather well.

He has scored in his last four games for Liverpool, 11 in all this season, although his club have won just one of those nine matches in which he has scored. Without him yesterday, they would have lacked the sharp edge to open up their opponents and been unable to turn a fairly forgettable first-half performance into a draw. Every time he received the ball a world of possibilities opened up.

With a nudge in the back of Ramires to create the space to score, Suarez bought himself enough room to head in a corner from Suso that was flicked on at the near post by Jamie Carragher on 72 minutes. The Uruguayan was not the only decent performer in a Liverpool second half  – Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling and Glen Johnson all played well  – but it always felt like if a goal was to come, it would come from Suarez.

When Brendan Rodgers says that he would not change Suarez for any other player you can see his point. In fact, this current Chelsea team with Suarez rather than Fernando Torres as their leading striker would be a whole different package. As it is, the European champions have now slipped to third in the Premier League behind the usual suspects from Manchester after the brightest of starts to the season.

Torres worked hard yesterday, especially when it came to chasing down Liverpool’s midfielders, but there is not the same menace about him as there is about Suarez when he gets the ball. Suarez might even have won it for Liverpool with four minutes of the game left had Petr Cech not succeeded in closing him down and getting a toe to the ball which cannoned back off the Liverpool man.

On 35 minutes, it was Suarez who fell on top of John Terry’s right leg, causing the Chelsea captain’s knee to twist unnaturally. Having scored the first goal of the game, Terry, on his return from his four-match suspension for the racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand, went down in the kind of distress that you rarely see from the breed of old-school centre-backs to which he belongs.

Eventually they carted the Chelsea captain off on a stretcher and he will have a scan on that knee today to assess the extent of the damage. At the point that he left the game it was hard to imagine anything other than a Chelsea victory, but gradually Liverpool fought their way back into the game and after Suarez scored the equaliser they might even have won it. With a five-man defence, with Carragher at the centre of it, Rodgers’ side struggled in the first half, not least from the corner that Terry scored from. On that occasion, Daniel Agger and Johnson – marking Terry and Branislav Ivanovic – got themselves tangled up and allowed the Chelsea captain to steer his header in off Brad Jones’s left-hand post.

In midfield, Joe Allen found himself caught in possession too often. Alongside him, Nuri Sahin was not a profound influence on the game, certainly not in comparison with the likes of Juan Mata and, to a lesser extent, Oscar in the first half. Mata’s delicate touch on the ball was evident every time it was at his feet, which was not quite enough from Chelsea’s point of view.

In time added on at the end of the first half, Mata slipped the ball through Andre Wisdom’s legs and then struck his shot over. Before then Torres and Eden Hazard had missed chances when another goal from Chelsea would have put the game out of sight. Liverpool hung on, and with Suarez there was always hope.

Rodgers changed his team to a more orthodox 4-4-2 in the second half, with Suso on in place of Sahin after the hour and Sterling pushed up alongside Suarez. The goal came when Carragher did well at the near post to flick the ball back across goal and Ramires allowed himself to be eased out of position by Suarez.

The draw gives Rodgers 12 points from his first 11 games. He will not want reminding that Roy Hodgson, his much-maligned predecessor who came before Kenny Dalglish, had 15 points at this stage of the 2010-2011 season with his 11th game in charge yielding three points at home to Chelsea. Liverpool are currently in 13th place, level on points with Stoke City but it is not as bad as it could have been. That is down, in no small measure, to Suarez, whose instincts got Liverpool out of a fix again.

At the end of the game, once the stadium had cleared, Didier Drogba came down from his executive suite and walked down the tunnel wearing the kind of thick black spectacles that he never required to locate the opposition’s goal in his eight years at the club.

Chelsea still miss his presence – which team would not? – and while Torres’s performances are marginally improved he is still not the answer. The striker was not happy to be substituted for Daniel Sturridge yesterday, although it was the right decision. What Chelsea really needed from their No 9, what Drogba provided on so many occasions was the killer blow, the second goal, but it never came.

After the stadium had cleared, Terry emerged from the tunnel on crutches and proceeded to cross the pitch slowly on his way to the exit. In the past his injury would have been a concern for the England manager but those days are over. Nowadays there is just Chelsea for him, and he will know better than most that they had enough chances to win this game before Suarez intervened.

Bookings Chelsea - Mikel. Liverpool - Allen, Johnson, Gerrard. Man of the match Johnson

Match rating 7/10

Possession Chelsea 43%. Liverpool 57%

Attempts on target Chelsea 3. Liverpool 3

Referee H Webb (S Yorkshire)

Attendance 41,627

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test