CHELSEA (0) vs LIVERPOOL (1)
CHELSEA manager Carlo Ancelotti defended Fernando Torres and insisted the Spaniard needs time to settle into his new surroundings after his miserable debut ended in defeat against his former club.
The Spaniard, who signed for a British record £50m a week ago, was substituted after 65 minutes and could only watch on from the bench when, two minutes later, Raul Meireles crashed home the winning goal.
Ancelotti paired Torres alongside Didier Drogba, with Nicolas Anelka operating from a deeper position and he intends to persevere with that system despite it flopping on its debut outing.
He said: “Torres has to try in the training sessions to combine well with the other strikers but this is normal after one game.
“We played a fantastic game with this shape at Sunderland and we wanted to repeat it. The problem was not these players together, they have a lot of quality.”
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish counteracted Ancelotti’s new-look forward line by picking three centre-halves, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher, all of whom were excellent.
But this was far from a backs-to-the-wall display. Liverpool kept possession well, broke intelligently throughout and were worth a lead well before Meireles plundered his fourth goal in five games.
Steven Gerrard’s cross to the near post ought to have been collected by Petr Cech, but Dirk Kuyt’s willingness to chase even the most hopeless looking of causes resulted in Cech taking his eye off the ball, and Meireles arrived right on cue to lash home left-footed.
Defeat was all the more difficult to take for Ancelotti after Manchester United and Arsenal had both dropped points on Saturday, but the Italian insists his side are still in with a chance of defending their title.
He said: “We are disappointed because we had a great opportunity to close the gap and now there is the same distance, but we have to keep going, we have less possibility to close the gap but we have to try again.
“I think the Premier League is very difficult to play every game, so it can happen that Manchester United can lose again.
“Every team can lose, it is a fantastic league with lots of balance, and now the games are very important for everyone.”
TORRID DEBUT FOR FERNANDO
The travelling Liverpool fans went to great lengths to ensure their former idol knew just how far he’d slipped in their estimation. One fan wore a Liverpool top with ‘Traitor’ printed on the back.
Despite a debut that could at best be described as uninspiring, Torres had Chelsea’s clearest opportunity of the game midway through the first-half, but Jamie Carragher’s block scuppered the Spaniard.
The animosity between the rival fans spilled onto the pitch shortly before the break when Branislav Ivanovic and Petr Cech got in a tangle. The usually mild manored goalkeeper was far from amused.