Premier League: Rodgers hits out after title race is blown open by Blues

Julian Harris
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LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers launched a stinging attack on the tactics deployed by his former mentor Jose Mourinho at Anfield yesterday, after a defensive Chelsea team thwarted the Premier League’s top scorers.

Despite having nearly three-quarters of the game’s possession, the league leaders could not find a way through Chelsea’s stubborn defence, and two break-away goals from Demba Ba and Willian ended Liverpool’s 11-game winning run.

Chelsea positioned 10 men behind the ball for large parts of the match – a strategy dubbed “parking the bus” by Mourinho himself nearly a decade ago.

“There were probably two buses parked today, never mind one,” Rodgers said. “It’s the polar opposite of what we do. It’s not difficult to coach, putting ten players on the 18-yard box. They’ve prepared us for Crystal Palace [Liverpool’s next opponents]. Long balls, long throw-ins, players behind the ball. Jose is happy to work that way and he’ll probably shove his CV in front of me and say it works, but it is not my way of working.”

And Rodgers, who was a coach for Mourinho during the Portuguese’s first spell at Chelsea, also complained of time-wasting by the visitors: “I think everyone could see that from the first whistle it was clearly the plan to frustrate us. We are a team that tried to win the game in a sporting manner.”

Mourinho insisted that his team had earned the victory. “It was about winning. We deserved to win, no doubt about it. It’s as simple as this. We were never in trouble against a team that is a fantastic team,” he said.

Liverpool could have gone ahead in the first half yet Coutinho hit a volley from six yards into the side netting, while Ashley Cole cleared another of the Brazilian’s efforts off the line.

And on the stroke of half-time Steven Gerrard miscontrolled a simple pass before losing his footing. Ba pounced on the error, raced through one-on-one and slid the ball past Simon Mignolet.

Again Liverpool dominated after the break yet resorted to long-range shots that failed to trouble Mark Schwarzer.

With the Reds piling forward in search of an injury-time equaliser, Fernando Torres broke free. With a one-on-one against Mignolet, he laid the ball sideways to Willian who walked it in.