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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Bolton win will see Liverpool closer to Istanbul

A Bolton win over Chelsea will significantly boost Liverpool's chances of overturning the Blues next Tuesday.

The parallel to Arsenal's demise in Europe last season is the basis for this statement. Let me run you through this.

On the Saturday morning before a second leg quarters tie against Chelsea, Arsenal were unbeaten and clear ahead in the league, in the semis of the FA Cup, and had an away goal after an awesome game of football in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

This was proving to be an exceptional season by any standards. Arsenal were not only playing scintillating football, but had forgotten how to lose. They had earned a crucial mental edge over the opposition.

At lunchtime Arsenal faced Man Utd in the cup. Henry was rested among others with an eye on the second leg. Man Utd played their typical over-physical game, grabbed a lead, kicked Pires and Reyes all over the pitch, and reduced Arsenal to an uncharacteristic long ball game in the second half that got the Gunners nowhere.

Result: out of the cup; a mental shock and consequent loss of momentum after losing their first game of the season to domestic oppostion (sorry Boro fans but a Carling cup semi with a youth team doesn't count); and only a three day physical recovery before taking on a fresh and in-form Chelsea team.

Arsenal went into the first half against Chelsea on adrenaline. Henry blew a couple of chances before Reyes put Arsenal deservedly ahead on the half-time whistle. But if a goal against you could ever come at a good time, this was one for Chelsea. Ranieri regrouped his team in the half-time break, and they came out with strength.

Lehmann spilled a long range effort and Lampard raced in to snap up the rebound. Arsenal deflated mentally for the second time in a few days. Their away goal advantage had gone, the adrenaline drained, and they lacked physical strength relative to Chelsea with the Man Utd defeat taking its toll.

This combination of factors inhibited the Gunners flowing game, and to put it simply Arsenal didn't look like scoring again. Henry was subbed before Bridge surged forward to grab a late winner. A deserved Chelsea victory and Arsenal out of two cups in the space of four days.

Similar conditions are coming into play right now that can benefit Liverpool this year just as Chelsea benefited last year (for Arsenal fans this will be nicely ironic!).

Chelsea have not lost in the league since last October. They have forgotten how to lose and consequently are playing with a mental edge. They are level after the first leg of a champs league tie. And they are going to be playing an over-physical team just three days before the next leg.

Sounds familiar?

A Chelsea loss to Bolton will come as a mental shock. And there will not be much physical recovery time for a team that are now showing signs of strain which is natural for a side that has played high-intensity football all season. Mourinho would have to earn his wages in the three days before the game at Anfield to counter-act these negatives. It will be a great test for the self-appointed 'special one'.

Benitez will want these potential problems to strike Chelsea's players and management. And it is a Bolton win that will put these factors directly into play.

So its quite simple: Liverpool should get right behind the team in sixth come this teatime. The Reebok can get them half way to Istanbul. A rocking Anfield can then complete the job.


Blogger Skippy said...

Liverpool fans will hope that TS is right.

With Chelsea winning in Bolton I think that they will not be fully focused in the game against Liverpool. I predict that Liverpool will beat Chelsea 2-0

4/30/2005 11:57 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So with the original piece having being revealed as a load of cobblers, we move onto the next prediction... and the next and the next.

Eventually someone will be right and we'll hear "I told you so all along".

What about the first prediction of all - We're going to win the League!

Coz we did, with weeks to spare.

And the Cup before that.

And IF we don't win on Tuesday, you know we'll just win it the next time instead. As Hansen said tonight, the key to being a really great side is to win it again and there's no club better set up to do just that than Chelsea.

Please learn to cope with that in season's to come.

5/01/2005 12:33 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Chelsea winning the league title was a foregone conclusion from time back. Their strength in performance was practically unrivalled, other than against Arsenal and Man City, and having been some distance away from 2nd place, only a fool would have bet on them slipping up. At one point they were comfortable, yet one bookmaker had odds of 9/1 on them.

The only question is their focus once the achievements are reached. They won the League Cup (just) but that in comparison to the title was very minor. Chelsea fans can correct me if they feel I shouldn't say they wouldn't have been happy with the League Cup and nothing else. So having won it, it was just a catalyst to forming a winning nucleus for the other competitions. Nice to have but there are further valuable jewels to obtain.

So having sustained the likes of Liverpool and Man Utd, and matched Arsenal, they had formed a very strong team to reach the top. However their Champions' League form has been susceptible. When they came against Barcelona and Bayern Munich, those teams weren't as approachable with Chelsea's domestic form. Chelsea almost could have gone out in either game.

Currently, particularly after yetserday's game, Chelsea show they maintain the stamina and foresight to execute a team, from start to the end. The onus is on the opposition being equally astute. Liverpool may well defend with vigour and bravery, but their weakness is in their midfield, which needs to function on a high level throughout the game.

Sam Allardyce had 4-5-1 and Chelsea managed to come out of their own half only on occasion, Bolton were stronger in the first half. Then the Lancashire side lost focus midway in the second half and Lampard took advantage. What will be important is whether Benitez plays one or two upfront. I think he should have two in Baros and Cisse, and have them push up on Terry and Carvalho respectively. Garcia and Riise on the flanks to trouble possibly Gallas and Johnson, running to send in crosses. Gerrard needs to be keen on Lampard, and probably Biscan matching Makelele in their holding positions.

Once Chelsea are made to feel pressurised, they find it hard to play their game. They pass and move, then enter the last third and hit with pace. The likes of Robben and Duff with trickery and pace can unlock many teams. It is imperative Liverpool focus on their tasks and what this match will mean to the fans.


5/01/2005 1:16 pm

Blogger T said...

Congratulations to Chelsea.

Their players are well deserving of the championship. Lampard just gets better and better and it was fitting to see him clinch the title with two goals.

Bolton play the ugliest football possible. They give new meaning to playing route one football. I'd like to see how they'll do in Europe next year.

P.S If Chelsea have 88 or more points after 35 games next season I will be astounded!

5/01/2005 8:09 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

I agree TS, I think Chelsea will find it a lot harder next season. I think Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool will provide a much sterner test.

5/03/2005 2:06 pm


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