Chelsea maintained their unbeaten home record with a draw at home to Liverpool on Sunday. The Blues were given a guard of honour after clinching the title last weekend, and they followed it up with a hard-fought point against a dogged Liverpool side. John Terry scored the opener early on, but Steven Gerrard struck just before half time to secure a point for the visitors.
Jose Mourinho sprung a surprise with his team selection, as he picked youngster Rueben Loftus-Cheek in his starting line-up. He started alongside John Obi Mikel in midfield, while Filipe Luis was given a rare start ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta. Loic Remy returned from injury to start up front.
There was no hangover in evidence for the champions here as they made a very intense start to the game. Raheem Sterling was brought down by a foul by Cesc Fabregas, for which the midfielder was lucky to only receive a yellow card. They then had the perfect start, as they took the lead after just five minutes. Terry headed home from a corner to give the hosts the lead, but it was a soft goal from Liverpool’s point of view.
That goal showed that Jose Mourinho wasn’t joking when he said that his side would be taking the run-in seriously, despite having nothing to play for. Kurt Zouma picked up an injury midway through the half, with Gary Cahill replacing him. Even with some future prospects in the side, the champions weren’t about to let the pace they’ve set all season slip. They pressed well, dominated the game, before throwing away the lead through silly mistakes.
Branislav Ivanovic gave away a needless foul on Adam Lallana, bringing him down right outside the box for a free kick wide on the right hand side. John Obi Mikel managed to lose Gerrard, who then had all the space in he needed to head the ball home at the back post. Despite dominating the first half, Chelsea went in at the break level.
Mourinho went a little more defensive in the second half, as he replaced Loftus-Cheek with Nemanja Matic. The youngster had a very impressive game, and he was far more impressive than Mikel who outlasted him on the pitch. Loftus-Cheek was tidy in possession and pressed well, and he should be a very good addition to the first team next season, giving an extra option in central midfield.
Mourinho made yet another defensive sub with less than 10 minutes to play, as he took off Loic Remy and replaced him with midfielder Juan Cuadrado. It’s not really a change you’d expect him to make, but with the title already won he packed out the midfield to try and kill off the game.
That worked, and it gave Chelsea a point which they didn’t really need. Keeping the unbeaten home record was much more important, while the Reds saw their Champions League hopes all but ended. The Blues are back at Stamford Bridge for their final home game of the season in two weeks’ time, when they’ll finally lift the Premier League trophy.
LCN Man of the Match: Filipe Luis