Continuing the series where I look back at my five favourite wins the Liverpool’s next opponents. This weekend Liverpool play against Chelsea at Anfield, in a match which could decide the destination of the League title. Here are my five favourite wins from past encounters, with some of them packed full of goals.
21st April 1990
LIVERPOOL (2) 4 (Rosenthal 25, Nicol 36, 80, Rush 82)
CHELSEA (0) 1 (Dixon 90)
LIVERPOOL: Grobbelaar; Hysen, Gillespie (Ablett), Hansen, Burrows; Nicol, Molby, McMahon, Barnes; Rosenthal, Rush
CHELSEA: Beasant; Hall, Nicholas, Johnsen, Dorigo; Monkou, Bumstead (Lee), McAllister, K.Wilson (C.Wilson); Durie, Dixon
Liverpool were closing in on their 18th League title when Chelsea arrived at Anfield towards the end of the 1989-90 season. They were 2pts clear of Aston Villa with a game in hand. Chelsea were well positioned in 6th, only 4pts off 3rd place. Liverpool had lost just once in their last 19 matches in the League going into this game. Chelsea had recently suffered a defeat at Villa, ending their own 8-game unbeaten run.
This game was another start for Israeli international, Ronnie Rosenthal, who’d scored a hat-trick on his first start a couple of weeks before at Charlton. He then scored against Nottingham Forest and was bang in form. Midway through the first half Gary Gillespie took a throw on the right wing and Rosenthal, with his back to goal, controlled the ball on his chest, turned Johnsen and then fired a left foot shot past Dave Beasant. Rosenthal could’ve scored four in this game but his profligacy wasn’t particularly a problem at this stage of his career, but was something which would come back to haunt him later on.
With ten minutes before the break, John Barnes cross from the left was headed home by Steve Nicol and Liverpool had a comfortable lead at half-time. When the teams met at Stamford Bridge in December, Liverpool won 5-2. Liverpool were far from clinical on this occasion but Chelsea seemed just as disorganised at the back. With ten minutes to go Ian Rush, who’d scored a brace against this opponent in December, put Nicol through on goal and the Scotsman didn’t pass up the chance to increase his goal tally for the season. Barnes was then involved in the 4th goal as he put Rosenthal through and his cross was headed in by Rush to score his 24th goal of the season.
Kerry Dixon then scored a late consolation goal but the visitors were well beaten. It wasn’t vintage Liverpool as gaps were starting to appear in their once impenetrable armour, but they won the League by 9pts from Aston Villa. Chelsea ended the season in 5th place.
21st September 1996
LIVERPOOL (3) 5 (Fowler 15, Berger 42, 49, Myers og, 45, Barnes 57)
CHELSEA (0) 1 (Leboeuf 85)
LIVERPOOL: James; McAteer, Wright, Babb, Matteo, Bjornebye; McManaman, Thomas, Barnes; Rush, Berger (Redknapp)
CHELSEA: Hitchcock; Petrescu, Clarke, Leboeuf, Myers (Duberry); Burley, Di Matteo, Wise, Morris (Spencer); Vialli, Hughes
Both teams came into this fixture unbeaten after 6 matches of the 1996-97 season. Roy Evans’ Liverpool had just beaten Leicester 3-0, their 4th clean-sheet so far. In that match new signing Patrick Berger came off the bench to score twice. He was rewarded with a starting place in this match. Ruud Gullit’s Chelsea had only conceded in two matches, a thrilling 3-3 draw at Highbury. This was 1st v 3rd and promised to be a classic. For one team, it was.
Fifteen minutes into the game and Stig-Inge Bjornebye whipped in a cross from the left wing and found Robbie Fowler at the far post to head past Hitchcock. Fowler had gone close a few minutes earlier, yet Chelsea did not heed the warning. Three minutes before half-time, Dominic Matteo pounced on a loose ball in the centre-circle, burst forward and split the Chelsea defence open as he slipped it to his left where Berger had a free run on goal. Berger went into the area, rounded the keeper and put Liverpool into a 2-goal lead. Chelsea had won once in their last 36 visits to Anfield and were now staring at another defeat. Chelsea were all at sea when Berger fed Bjornebye on the left and another trademark sweeping cross from the Norwegian was headed in perfectly by Andy Myers. Unfortunately for the visitors, Myers was on their side.
Chelsea had made their best start to a season since 1970 but the wheels were definitely coming off at Anfield after just 45 minutes. Four minutes after the re-start and Dennis Wise was caught in possession in midfield by McManaman and Patrick Berger was on hand again to power towards the visitors goal. As Hitchcock came out Berger slipped it left-footed past him and the home side were now 4-0 up. Just before the hour McAteer’s cross from the right was poorly dealt with by Duberry (who’d come on for Myers) and then ball fell to Barnes on the edge of the area. John Barnes then rolled back the years as he met it full on the volley and Frank (I don’t care I won a World Cup) Leboeuf stuck his leg out just to make sure it went in. With over 30 minutes to go Liverpool were 5-0 up.
Liverpool controlled the remainder of the game as Thomas and Barnes ran the midfield and Chelsea were scared of Berger’s pace. Then with five minutes to go Mark Hughes went down under the challenge of Matteo and made sure he fell into the box enough to convince the referee to give Chelsea a penalty.
Frank Leboeuf managed to stop shaking enough to just get the ball past David James, who was almost on the 6-yard box by the time the Frenchman struck the ball. The game ended with some unsavoury scenes as Wise tried to get Thomas sent off and Dan Petrescu bravely threw the ball at the Liverpool man, as his side remained well beaten. 5-1 to Liverpool and they strengthened their lead at the top.
Liverpool finished 4th in the table behind Arsenal in 3rd on goal difference. Chelsea were down in 6th.
5th October 1997
LIVERPOOL (2) 4 (Berger 20, 35, 57, Fowler 63)
CHELSEA (1) 2 (Zola 22, Poyet pen 85)
LIVERPOOL: James; Jones (McAteer), Kvarme, Babb, Bjornebye; McManaman, Ince, Carragher, Berger; Riedle, Fowler
CHELSEA: de Goey; Petrescu (Flo), Clarke, Sinclair, Le Saux; Lambourde, Wise, Poyet, Di Matteo; Zola (Gullit), Hughes
Liverpool had made an indifferent start to the 1997-98 season and were lying 11th after 8 games. They had just lost at West Ham having already suffered defeat at home to Leicester in their first home match. Chelsea were in 6th and had faced a tough few matches against Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle. They’d only picked up 4pts and now they travelled to a place where they’d only won once since 1935.
Twenty minutes in and Ince played a ball from the back and found Berger, who’d made a good run forward. Graeme Le Saux miss-judged the bounce and Berger lobbed the ball over de Goey and gave Liverpool the lead. Gianfranco Zola then grabbed an equaliser within minutes and the game had come alive. Chelsea then made things harder for themselves as Lambourde was sent-off after just 26 minutes. It prompted Ruud Gullit to bring himself on for his first appearance for seven months. Then with ten minutes of the first half remaining, Bjornebye exchanged passes with McManaman down the left and his low cross into the area found Berger unmarked and the Czech international fired it into the net to put Liverpool back in front.
When Chelsea lost here the previous season they were scared rigid by Berger’s pace when breaking from midfield. He scored two that day and then twelve minutes after the break, Ince clipped the ball over the defence and Berger was away again. He rounded de Goey and slipped the ball into the empty net to complete his hat-trick, his first in English football.
Barely six minutes later, Berger turned provider as he laid on a goal for Robbie Fowler. Liverpool were rampant once again and the home crowd took great delight in asking the visiting manager to let them know the score. Fair play to Gullit who merely pointed to the number 4 on his back. Gus Poyet then converted a penalty after McAteer had brought down Chelsea’s walking beanpole, Flo. It was more than they deserved but they were a well beaten team, again.
Liverpool finished 3rd in the League finishing 2pts ahead of Chelsea, who won the FA Cup that year.
7th November 2010
LIVERPOOL (2) 2 (Torres 11, 44)
CHELSEA (0) 0
LIVERPOOL: Reina; Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Konchesky; Gerrard, Lucas, Meireles (Spearing), Maxi; Kuyt (Shelvey), Torres (N’Gog)
CHELSEA: Cech; Ivanovic (Bosingwa), Alex, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Mikel, Zhirkov (Sturridge); Malouda, Anelka, Kalou (Drogba)
For the 4th match in this series I was torn between this one and the one from March 2002 when a last minute Smicer goal won the game for Liverpool. Then, they were chasing the title and the win took them top. But in the end I plumped for this match in 2010. Mainly because it was a rare highlight in the short era of Roy Hodgson at Anfield, and it was such a breath of fresh air from a side who were a shadow of their former selves.
At the start of play Liverpool were lying down in 16th, having already lost 4 league games and suffered the ignominy of being dumped out of the League Cup by League Two side Northampton. Roy Hodgson had been appointed to replace Rafa Benitez by two owners who by now weren’t even talking to each other, let alone anyone else in the club. The club was a mess as new owners were hovering to take control and Hodgson’s style of play was far removed from the fare usually served up at Anfield. When Chelsea arrived in November they were defending Champions and also top of the table, having dropped just 5pts from their opening 10 matches. Managed by Carlo Ancelotti they’d only conceded 3 goals so far and won their opening two matches 6-0.
Liverpool had gained some confidence from a midweek win at home to Napoli in the Europa League but needed Steven Gerrard to come off the bench and score a hat-trick to overturn a 0-1 deficit going into the last 15 minutes. To make matters worse for Liverpool, their star striker, Fernando Torres, was off form and had been all season. Looking increasingly as if he’d rather be somewhere else, the Spaniard, who had burst onto English football scene with 33 goals in his first season. He’d only been on the scoresheet twice so far this season, but tonight he changed all that.
Liverpool flew out of the blocks and in an atmosphere more reminiscent of Benitez days, the crowd seemed to be noisy out of relief than anything else. Lucas and Gerrard dominated the midfield and Torres was a menace in attack. Eleven minutes in and ever industrious, Dirk Kuyt, picked up a ball from Skrtel as he found some space midway into the Chelsea half. He dinked it over John Terry for Torres to run onto and the Liverpool No.9 had the measure of him. Torres was in on goal and finished with real confidence. Something which had been sorely lacking in recent months.
It was all Liverpool as they harried and pressed their opponents who seemed genuinely stunned by how well the home side was playing. Just before half-time, Meireles stole the ball in midfield and surged towards the Chelsea defence. He chose Torres to his left who then turned in on his right foot and curled a beautiful shot into the far corner.
Liverpool were in seventh heaven and it was such a relief to finally see them play like that again. Cech had been well beaten on both goals and Liverpool looked as if they had their striker back. Many will never forgive Torres for the way he engineered a move from Anfield, but for me that first season of his was one of the best from a foreign player in English football. I had come into the game fearing we’d get stuffed and in the end we played as well as we ever had done against Chelsea.
Chelsea were better in the second half but the game was gone. They’d been outdone tactically although it’s uncertain whether Hodgson just let the players do their thing or whether he had finally understood how to get this team playing. In the end, Liverpool would win just twice more before the end of the year and Hodgson was replaced by the new owners with Kenny Dalglish given the task of resurrecting the club. From 12th at New Year to a final place of 6th showed there was something to build on. Chelsea finished 2nd to Manchester United.
8th May 2012
LIVERPOOL (3) 4 (Essien og 19, Henderson 25, Agger 28, Shelvey 61)
CHELSEA (0) 1 (Ramires 50)
LIVERPOOL: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger; Downing (Sterling), Henderson, Shelvey, Maxi (Kuyt); Carroll, Suarez
CHELSEA: Turnbull; Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Bertrand; Ramires, Essien, Romeu; Malouda, Sturridge (Lukaku), Torres
The second half of the 2011-12 season had been a frustrating one. Lying 6th at Christmas, they’d fallen to 9th by the beginning of May. However, they’d also reached two Cup Finals, beating Cardiff in the League Cup and losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup. This fixture came just three days after that defeat at Wembley. Chelsea too were having a disappointing season in the League as they were 6th and needing to win their final two matches to stand an outside chance of getting into the Champions League. If they couldn’t reach 4th then their only hope was to beat Bayern Munich in the Final to come.
Both teams came into this game on the back of defeats in their previous League matches and Liverpool were looking for a repeat of their 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge back in November. After his performance against Chelsea at this venue the season before, Torres, now a Chelsea player, was back at Anfield for the first time. The difference in the two performances could not have been more stark.
Ivanovic nearly opened the scoring when his header hit the post in the 17th minute, but this seemed to galvanise the home side. The partnership of Suarez and Carroll continued to show promise and it was the former who set the crowd alight with his run down the right touchline to hold off Romeu, and then the obligatory nutmeg on John Terry. As he reached the bye-line by the near post, Suarez cut the ball back and Michael Essien, as if to appreciate the quality of the run, finished off the move by tucking the ball into his own net.
Six minutes the home crowd finally had a glimpse of the talent of Jordan Henderson. The player had been subbed in the Cup Final, and was a frustrated figure, but tonight he seemed rejuvenated. Henderson began the move midway in his own half as Shelvey collected the ball ahead of him. He laid it to his left where Maxi, hugging the touchline, saw Henderson’s run and played a well-timed pass to Terry’s left. The Chelsea captain clearly expected the ball to be played to his right as he slipped trying to switch his balance. This allowed Henderson the opportunity to get in on goal and his finish was full of confidence. This season you wouldn’t be surprised to see this from ‘Hendo’ but back in 2012 he was less assured.
Within minutes it got worse for the visitors as Ross Turnbull in the Chelsea goal, was left floundering at a corner and Agger had a simple header to put Liverpool 3-0 up. Stewart Downing, without a league goal for Liverpool, hit the bar with a volley but soon had his chance to break his duck. Carroll was elbowed by Ivanovic and the ref awarded a penalty. Downing took it, and promptly missed, hitting the base of the post. Chelsea were relieved to hear the halftime whistle as they could’ve been trailing by at least 5.
In the second half, Chelsea looked more determined but soon the reality of the fact they were not going to achieve a top four finish seemed to hit them. Five minutes into the half and Ramires grabbed a goal back as he scored from a corner when he misjudged his jump and the ball hit his waist and bobbled in past Reina. But there was no heroic comeback as Liverpool soon restored their 3-goal lead. Turnbull played a goal-kick out to Bertrand in the left back position, and the young full-back was immediately under pressure. He hurriedly passed it straight to his keeper who was just as flustered with his subsequent clearance. The ball straight to Shelvey who was bang in the centre of Chelsea’s half. He controlled the ball and then met it on the half-volley showing great technique to fire the ball like a missile into the empty net.
A 4-1 win was cold comfort for the disappointment of a Cup Final lost but the team had once again outplayed their opponents and were certainly not in the end of season mood.
HEAD TO HEAD at Anfield
Liverpool win: 46
Chelsea win: 18
Liverpool goals: 148
Chelsea goals: 71