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29 December 2013
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 41614
E. Hazard 17'
S. Eto'o 34'
M. Škrtel 3'
That's it for today - what a game! I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did. I've been Tom J Doyle, and thanks for joining us. Bye for now.
There was controversy througout - Eto'o could have seen red, while Luis Suarez could easily have had two penalties given for fouls on him. Oscar should also have seen red, but Howard Webb got the big calls wrong, and Mourinho's men escape with the points. That's the way it goes sometimes.
Martin Skrtel opened the scoring after four minutes but Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto'o hit back in the first half to give Jose Mourinho's men a slender lead which they hung onto. The Blues are up to third and are two points off of leaders Arsenal, while Liverpool - top at Christmas - are fifth, a whole six points off the Gunners.
IT'S ALL OVER!!! Chelsea get the three points today in a fantastic game against Liverpool. For the second time in three days Brendan Rodgers' men lose 2-1 after going ahead, and narrow misses likes these could cost them their title chances.
90' + 5'
Liverpool waste the long ball and Mourinho is celebrating - he knows this one is almost over...
90' + 4'
Yellow Card Oscar
90' + 4'
IT'S ALL KICKING OFF!!! Oscar goes in late on Lucas and he jumps in with scissors - the Liverpool midfielder reactswith a hand to the throat, and everybody else gets involved. Oscar should definitely be off for that, but somehow he's only got a caution. Webb has been atrocious today.
90' + 3'
Both sides look out on their feet and Luiz is just blasting the ball as far away as he can - is there one last chance for Liverpool?
90' + 2'
Frustration for the visitors as they lose it and Oscar puts the ball forward for Hazard, who wins a free kick on the wing. Surely they'll take it short and waste time...
90' + 1'
Chelsea are keeping the ball in the corner of the pitch, but Azpilicueta loses the ball and Liverpool can get it forward.
Sakho pulled his hamstring there trying to keep up, and is subbed off for Kolo Toure - four minutes of injury time to play...
CHANCE FOR TORRES!!! The former Liverpool striker turns Sakho on the right of the box and unleashes a low shot which Mignolet does well to block.
Can Liverpool find a vital goal at the death? Cech is doing his best to help them as he shanks a clearance at Henderson, but the midfielder can't control it and the chance to counter goes begging.
Five minutes to go and Eto'o is down nursing an apparent shin injury. He's scored what could be the winner but is a very lucky boy - he could have been sent off in the third minute, and he was so lucky not to give away a spot kick moments ago. He departs for Torres to a hero's reception though.
Another flash point here as Suarez dribbles into the Chelsea area and loses the ball, but he appears to be fouled by Eto'o off the ball while Azpilicueta runs away with the ball. Quite what Eto'o was doing is anybody's guess, and Webb has misses a certain penalty call there while looking right at it.
Liverpool have now hit the woodwork 16 times this season according to Opta Sports, more than any other Premier League side. Will they come to rue Sakho's miss earlier on?
Yellow Card Gary Cahill
Yellow Card Gary Cahill
Suarez gets down the left and pushes the ball past Cahill, who flies in and takes none of the ball and all of the Uruguayan in an ugly challenge. It's a nailed-on booking, and the Chelsea man could have perhaps been sent off on another day.
This game is still wide open - Chelsea are pressing for a third at the moment with Willian almost teeing up Eto'o for a finish, but with Suarez up top anything is possible for Liverpool.
Now it's Chelsea's turn to shoot, with Hazard's low effort creeping a yard or two wide of Mignolet's right-hand post.
SAVE FROM CECH!!! Suarez dribbles and holds off Cahill well before feeding the ball to Johnson on the right, and unleashes a fierce shot which the Chelsea keeper does well to tip away at the near post for a corner.
SO CLOSE FOR OSCAR!!! The Brazilian harries and wins the ball back from compatriot Lucas in Liverpool's half, and dribbles to the edge of the area before curling a low effort just wide of Mignolet's left-hand post.
No - the Brazilian can only cannon his effort off the wall, but Chelsea recover the ball for a throw deep in Liverpool territory.
Eto'o wis a free kick 25 yards out here and the home crows cheer - they think they've been hard done by in this half. Is it time for a Luiz stunner?
This looks painful - Oscar gets a knee in the back from Skrtel. Nobody wants that. He should be okay to continue though.
Azpilicueta looked sheepishly towards Webb as soon as Terry fell on Suarez there - if your team mates are looking at the referee when you've done something liek that, it's probably a foul.
The away fans scream for a penalty as Suarez goes down in the box, but Webb waves away the claims - Terry clambers all over the striker with the ball loose in the area, and he's lucky not to have given away a spot kick.
Suarez is angry as Azpilicueta fouls him 35 yards out here, with the right-back taking a casual swing at the forward. A chance for Liverpool from another set-piece...
Eto'o is away in the area again after Luiz plays a clever ball down the wing, but is blocked by a fine sliding challenge from Skrtel. A great block from the defender there.
Allen's got a problem here and will have to come off - it'll be a debut for 19-year-old Brad Smith. What a game for it!
CLOSE FOR SUAREZ!!! Liverpool work the ball well down the left and the ball is hung up for the Uruguayan, who attempts a volley similar to his goal against Aston Villa recently - but he can only hit it straight at Cech from 20 yards. A warning for Chelsea there.
Chelsea have a corner but it's an abject delivery from Oscar, whipping a low cross just off the surface to the front post - much to the home crowd's frustration. You've got to do better than that from a set-piece, surely?
TOP STOP FROM MIGNOLET!!! Eto'o breaks the offside trap and sprints towards goal - he should score, but insted of placing it past the keeper he opts to blast it, and Mignolet gets a hand up to block the shot from six yards. What a chance to bury the game.
OFF THE BAR!!! Liverpool take the free kick quickly and Henderson crosses the ball for Sakho, who rises well and plants his header onto the bar with Cech rooted to the spot. So close to an equaliser for the visitor.
Another free kick for Liverpool now as Johnson tries to go around Cole but is blocked - the Chelsea left-back is lucky to escape a caution for that as Johnson shakes his head in disgust.
Yellow Card David Luiz
Yellow Card David Luiz
And now Luiz is going into the book for a clear shirt tug on Allen right in front of Webb. That's stupid, and he now misses Chelsea's next clash with Southampton.
Yellow Card John Terry
Yellow Card John Terry
Terry goes up for a header with Allen and catches the Liverpool midfielder in the face with an elbow - he receives a yellow card, and doesn't seem too happy about it.
John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel
We're underway for the second 45 minutes here, and John Obi Mikel has replaced Lampard at the break. Whether the England veteran has played too much football over Christmas or Mourinho just wants the more conservative Nigerian on is open to debate.
And yet more on the Cameroon forward - replays show Eto'o was very lucky to escape without a card for his early tackle on Henderson. Another referee would have shown yellow or potentially worse, as he caught the Liverpool midfielder high on the shin.
Samuel Eto'o's goal was only his seventh touch of the game according to Opta Sports - he's not been in the game that much, but he showed great awareness to get in front of Skrtel to get the decisive touch of the game so far.
Here's an odd one - Mamadou Sakho and Eto'o have swapped shirts at half-time. The striker is a legend of the modern game to be fair, so the Liverpool defender has probably been wise to get in early there.
That's half-time - what a fantastic first 45 minutes! Liverpool went ahead through Martin Skrtel, but goals from Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto'o have given Jose Mourinho's side the edge. What does Brendan Rodgers do from here?
45' + 2'
Liverpool are pushing for an equaliser, but Chelsea are standing strong. Seconds until the half-time whistle...
We'll have three minutes of injury time - both managers will probably want to get into their respective changing rooms and regroup, such has been the pace of the game.
Sterling is seeing more of the ball on the right and now Johnson has the ball on the same wing, but puts a cross high and out for a goal kick to the serision of the home crowd. Not the incisive ball Suarez was wanting there.
GOOD SAVE FROM CECH!!! Sterling gets away down the right and crosses into the box, and the ball falls for Allen to whip a shot at goal. The ball deflects off of Cole and Cech does well to shovel the ball away from goal, with Suarez offside from the follow-up.
Yellow Card Glen Johnson
We'll have a brief break here as Hazard is down holding his jaw after colliding with Johnson - he'll be fine to carry on, and the Liverpool player gets a yellow card for his troubles.
Azpilicueta looks fantastic on the right - funny that, seeing as he's a natural right-back. He makes another fine run to almost link up with a crossfield ball, and while he doesn't get there, the extra width is causing Liverpool all kinds of problems.
Simon Mignolet may not want to see replays of the goal - it was a close-range finish from Eto'o, but the Liverpool keeper can only parry the ball into his own net. He let in a soft one against Manchester City on Boxing Day, and he'll have to recover quickly today.
Goal Samuel Eto'o
ETO'O NETS!!! The tactical change bears immediate fruit as Luiz chips a ball down the right for Azpilicueta to race onto, and his cross is met by Oscar. The midfielder's shot is blocked but he retains possession and cutely crosses for Eto'o, who slides the ball in via Mignolet from six yards. A deserved lead for Chelsea.
While Chelsea will struggle a little more on set-pieces, Cole and Azpilicueta on either wing should offer them greater fluidity with overlapping runs...
Coutinho breaks in from the left and drives an effort at goal, but Cahill is on hand to block it away. And that's it for Ivanovic, who lasts barely another minute as he departs for Ashley Cole, with Cesar Azpilicueta shifting to his preferred right-back position.
Things don't look good for Ivanovic - two minutes ago he looked like he had a problem, and now he definitely does as he slips on the line while making a challenge. He wants to carry on, but how long he lasts is another question altogether.
Chance for Joe Allen! Liverpool link up well around the Chelsea box and the midfielder is clean through in the box. He takes the ball on his chest and shapes to shoot, but Cahill makes a superb last-ditch challenge to stop him.
Oh David Luiz, that's no good - the defender/midfielder turns up from around 25 yards to unleash a trademark belter, but sidefoots the ball around 20 yards over the bar. High, wide, and not at all handsome.
Well Chelsea can't defend set-pieces, and Liverpool can't cope with the hosts' attackers - we haven't learnt anything new in the opening 22 minutes, but it's been fun.
The home crowd can smell blood now - the pace is unrelenting and no player has stopped to breathe yet. Suarez goes on a dribble to a chorus of boos but is challenged to the delight of the majority of the supporters. This is what the Premier League is all about!
Goal Eden Hazard
HAZARD LEVELS!!! What a goal to equalise the game! Oscar broke through the centre once more and his attempted pass is blocked, but it falls kindly for the Belgian maestro on the left to whip the ball into the top left-hand corner of Mignolet's net with his instep. All square!
Chelsea have conceded a higher proportion of goals from set-pieces than any other PL club this season - 37 per cent, according to Opta Sports. For a side with the likes of John Terry, Luiz, Ivanovic and Gary Cahill, that's not good enough.
Chelsea are looking fluid in attack, but Liverpool have held firm so far. They've had the majority of the play, but the only stat that counts so far is the goal in the visitors' favour.
WHAT A SAVE! That is a truly world class stop from Mignolet as Lampard unleashes a ferocious 30-yard drive towards the top corner, which the Liverpool goalkeeper just gets his fingertips to and pushes it over the bar. That was stunning.
Penalty? No! Hazard goes down in the area under the challenge of Luxas and the home crowd scream for a spot kick, but Webb got the call right as the Belgian was looking for the decision.
Oscar shows nimble feet to break forward and evade a couple of challenges only to lose the ball, but the hosts then put Skrtel under pressure and he hoofs it out for a throw. There's no room to breathe in this game at all.
Both managers are animated on the touchline, barking orders to their players - the fourth official comes out to speak to Mourinho as he strays yards outside his technical zone. There's no se in that - this is his home, after all.
What a start to the game - and it's fitting that Martin Skrtel's goal against Chelsea is the 1000th scored in the Premier League in 2013, according to Opta Sports. Not a beauty by any means, but it may be one of the most important for Rodgers' side this season.
OFF THE LINE!!! Chelsea are so close to an immediate equaliser as Eden Hazard breaks into the box on the right and unleashes a low shot which Mignolet can only parry into the six yard box. The ball rebounds towards goal but Glen Johnson is on hand to punt a certain goal clear of danger.
Goal Martin Skrtel
SKRTEL SCORES!!! What a start for Liverpool! The free kick is curled in and Suarez bravely goes in for a low header at the near post which Ivanovic partially blocks, but Skrtel reacts quickest to turn the ball in from two yards out. Game on!
Eto'o rakes his studs down Henderson's knee here and the Liverpool midfielder is hurt. It'll be a free kick in a good position on the left, and the striker is lucky to escape a caution that early on. Henderson looks angry with Howard Webb for not giving a booking.
We're underway at Stamford Bridge! The Liverpool fans are making a lot of noise at Simon Mignolet's end of the pitch - that'll help the young goalkeeper settle.
A quick word on Liverpool's bench - Jordan Rossiter is among the subs, and he's only 16 - what a day for him.
The teams are out to thunderous applause at the Bridge - it's handshakes all round and we're all set.
We're less than 10 minutes away from kick-off now - it's a huge game for both sides. Can Chelsea keep Suarez out? Will Eto'o find his big-game form? Let's find out...
Chelsea have won only two of their last 13 Premier League encounters with Liverpool, according to Opta Sports. That's two wins, four draws and seven defeats - so history would favour a brave approach from Rodgers.
Mourinho himself offered a defence of Suarez, telling reporters recently: “Everybody makes mistakes.” Whether he'd say the same if Liverpool profit today from similar Suarez shenanigans is questionable though.
Say what you want about the man, but Suarez s undoubtedly the league's form player this season. The Uruguayan has hit a ridiculous 19 goals so far this season, six clear of nearest rival Sergio Aguero. Coincidentally, the last time these two sides met was in the 2-2 draw that saw the striker bite Branislav Ivanovic to land a 10-match ban - Suarez should expect a tasty reception from the home crowd.
The man, the myth, the legend Luis Suarez leads the line for the visitors, with Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling on hand for the Uruguayan to link with. Lucas and Joe Allen are tasked with breaking up Chelsea's triumvirate of attacking midfielders - no small task.
Samuel Eto'o starts up top for the hosts, and is supported by Willian, Oscar and Eden Hazard. With Ramires out, David Luiz steps into holding midfield alongside Frank Lampard - Rodgers will see that team sheet and immediately look to target the duo.
Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Sakho; Lucas, Allen; Sterling, Henderson, Coutinho; Suarez.Subs: Jones, Toure, Alberto, Aspas, Cissokho, Rossiter, Smith.
Chelsea XI: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; D Luiz, Lampard; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Eto'o.Subs: Schwarzer, Cole, Essien, Mikel, Schurrle, Mata, Torres.
These sides usually win their battles in midfield, so it'll be an intriguing tie in consideration of missing players today. Mourinho is without Brazilian powerhouse Ramires, who is suspended after notching his fifth booking of the season against Swansea. Rodgers' side have coped well without the injured Steven Gerrard of late, but his know-how is crucial in games like these. So without further ado, here's the team news...
How soon things can change in football - Brendan Rodgers' men were top of the table for Christmas, but defeat at Manchester City on Boxing Day coupled with Everton's win today leaves them fifth. Still, Liverpool gave it a good go that day, and had Raheem Sterling manned to net from six yards out late on, it'd be a whole different story. A win today would lift them above the Blues, but defeat will leave their title hopes looking less realistic.
Jose Mourinho's men lie third in the table, and are searching for a fourth straight home victory following a 1-0 win over Swansea on Boxing Day. Despite failing to hit the dizzying heights of tiki-taka perfection this season, the Blues are on 37 points - just five behind league leaders Arsenal with a game in hand. A win today would keep their title run in full flow, and when they hit full form - well, they may well just win the thing.
Good afternoon and welcome to the LIVE Commentary of Chelsea v Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. I'm Tom J Doyle, and I'll be bringing you all the action as it happens as these two sides battle it out near the top of the Premier League.
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