A lovely afternoon in London was to become the setting of what was going to be a very bad day for already lowly Chelsea (the not so great blue bus of London). The Reds of Merseyside visited the Stamford Bridge in search of Klopp’s first win in the English Premiere League, and boy did they find it!
Many, including me, predicted a win for the Reds of Merseyside. So in the fourth minute when Ramires headed home after some rather brilliant team play from Chelsea, yes we were dumbfounded, but never really lost faith in Liverpool.
The first half was a typical Mourinho first-half. After grabbing an early goal, Chelsea gladly ceded possession to Liverpool, inviting wave after wave of ‘Red’ pressure. The initiative was now with Liverpool to get something out of the tie. A lack of a recognized striker to lead the line, and some rueful finishing saw Liverpool need the full time allocated for the first half to put the ball in the net (COUTINHO!!!). Coutinho received the ball from Roberto Firmino, and left Ramires in the dirt as he bent an absolutely fantastic ball into Begovic’s net. Begovic could do absolutely nothing about that strike! It was pure art. Game on.
The second half Chelsea got off the bus, and dared to also play football. Mourinho actually made some positive subs; taking off the ineffective, and rather invisible Hazard for Kenedy and replacing Azpilicueta with Radamel Falcao. Positive as bringing on a striker for a defender is, it was rather curious that Mourinho elected to leave Zouma on the pitch! Zouma – centerback turned fullback offered very little quality going forward. His effort and willingness to receive the ball and contribute offensively while being admirable was never enough, and in hindsight Mourinho might still be gnashing his teeth for that very poor decision. The fact that Falcao was effectively nonexistent in this match will not help to pacify the Special One. More curious even was the change of Mikel for Cesc Fabregas. In a game which was always going to be won in midfield, Fabregas never needed to play this match. A special midfielder that he is, his inability to defend is not only overwhelmingly obvious but almost always consistent. Mikel had been good, if not spectacular. His energy, passing, anticipation and reading of the game was key to Chelsea getting a positive result in the first half. Exit Mikel. Enter Fabregas and Chelsea concede twice! With Ramires tired, Chelsea lost that midfield solidity that they so needed to walk away from this match with a positive result. I am not saying Liverpool won because of Fabregas. Liverpool won because they were better in every single aspect of the match. They defended better. They pressed better. They passed better. They attacked better. And more importantly scored MORE!
The Normal One. Jurgen Klopp is his name, a dynamic charismatic effervescent character, he demands one thing from his teams – passion. In the first ten minutes Chelsea played with more passion, but ultimately, Klopp’s schooling of his charges to deliver passionate ‘high-tempo’ football payed off. As we witnessed an energetic Liverpool. A Liverpool that were willing to run their hearts out to the North Pole and back to get a win! We saw a Liverpool that believed they could win, and pushed till they eventually did. A new Liverpool if you would. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the Kop like what they saw. They saw the Normal One become the SPECIAL One.