The early birds who found this page before I turned up got this to read. Here it is, preserved for posterity.

In the meantime read why André Villas-Boas reckons Liverpool are a title threat …


The Chelsea manager, André Villas-Boas, has refused to rule Liverpool out of the Premier League title race, despite Sunday's visitors to Stamford Bridge having slipped 12 points behind the leaders Manchester City.

Three draws in their last three home games have seen Liverpool lose ground at the top of the table yet despite their inconsistent form, Villas-Boas insisted Kenny Dalglish's side were still title contenders, because of their huge recruitment drive this year. "I've always seen them as title contenders because it's been assumed by them that they would do it," Villas-Boas said. "Dalglish has made the necessary changes to Liverpool for them to progress to title contenders this year.

"He made seven changes to the team, seven coming in, which represents the type of commitment the ownership have to put them back on title-winning ways. They are one of the biggest clubs in England and I always assumed they were challenging for the title."

Continue reading here …

And here's Paul Wilson on why Kenny Dalglish still has faith in Andy Carroll …


Liverpool visits to Chelsea have a special place in the affections of older supporters of the club. Stamford Bridge was where Kenny Dalglish himself scored the winning goal on the final day of the 1985-86 season to secure the title en route to Liverpool's first Double in his first campaign as player-manager, his smile of delight going some way to erasing the unhappy circumstances of his appointment in the aftermath of the Heysel tragedy.

For younger supporters Sunday afternoon's fixture means something completely different, recalling the memory of the dramatic last day of the January transfer window, when Fernando Torres shipped out to Chelsea for £50m, £35m of which was immediately reinvested in Andy Carroll. In what was almost a single transaction – that is the way Dalglish looks at it, anyway – the British transfer record was broken and a new high set for an English player moving between two English clubs.

Continue reading here …

3.30pm: So, a match with more needle than an Indian child-labour-based football-stitching factory, thanks to a long history of classic encounters, some more recent snorters, particularly in Europe, and the still-contentious defections of two players in 2011.

Talking of whom: Chelsea favourites who recently scored cracking goals against the Blues for Liverpool: Fernando Torres, Raul Meireles. Liverpool favourites who recently scored cracking goals against the Reds for Chelsea: Er, John Arne Riise?

Would you like to know the teams? Me too! What I can tell you is that both Torres and Andy Carroll only make the bench. Full line-ups imminent.

3.32pm: Here they are now! Meireles joins Torres on the Chelsea bench. Maxi Rodríguez makes his first league start this season, Craig Bellamy his second.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Lampard, Mata, Drogba, Malouda. Subs: Turnbull, Romeu, Torres, Meireles, Bosingwa, Sturridge, Anelka.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Kuyt, Lucas, Adam, Maxi, Bellamy, Suarez. Subs: Doni, Carroll, Henderson, Downing, Spearing, Carragher, Kelly.
Referee: Martin Atkinson Lee Probert – a late replacement for the injured Atkinson.

3.40pm: Reds, how do you feel about the Maxi/Suarez/Bellamy/Kuyt forward line? Could be good, I think – workhorses on the wings to restrict Chelsea's raiding full-backs and pace and movement up front to unsettle a suspect John Terry and David Luiz partnership.

3.52pm: "The absence of Downing from Liverpool's forward line is a major plus," alleges Niall Mullen. "He has (partially) escaped criticism as he benefits from not being Andy Carroll. He has been woeful though."

3.55pm: Michel Platini in the crowd for this one. Either it's still foggy in west London or someone's having a fag in front of Sky's camera.

3.56pm: The players are out and that can only mean one thing: an ad break.

4.00pm: "I'm wondering what percentage of EPL players Niall Mullen would classify as 'woeful'," rages Paul Taylor. "Would he, like many pundits here, look to dump a third to a half of each club after every season?" Er, I don't know. Anyway, enough of this. Shall we watch some football?

1 min: Peeeep! They're off!

2 mins: Two Chelsea attack-of-sorts so far, neither much kop. The first saw Ivanovic scurry to the byline before falling down in the act of crossing, sending the ball rolling a few yards to the nearest defender, and the second saw a long diagonal ball played up to Drogba, who was offside.

3 mins: Suarez's first-time flick sends Maxi Rodriguez scurrying down the middle with John Terry for company. Terry remains ball-side of the Argentine, but does use a fair amount of arm in doing so. Cech clears.

6 mins: Kenny Dalglish's record against Chelsea as Liverpool manager: Played 11, won eight, drawn three, lost none. Obviously most of those wins came against old Chelsea, but still: nice.

9 mins: Ramires is brought down from behind by Lucas, the pair of them then catching the neighbouring Charlie Adam, who falls on top of them. Ramires, having found himself in the middle of this unedifying Liverpool sandwich, takes a minute or so to recover.

10 mins: Malouda crosses from the left, deep and high to the far post, where Mata has time to measure his volley. It's low, hard and across the keeper but missing the goal even before Skrtel clears.

12 mins: "What Paul Taylor sees as a problem I see as fine entertainment," says Phil Sawyer. "I'd love to see each club lose half its players each season. You could paint circles to represent each club onto the Wembley pitch but not tell the players which one's which and then get them to run to the circle of their choice in the style of '70s TV gem Runaround." I do like the sound of that, I must say. "Or hand to hand combat. I'm easy either way." Nope, prefer the first.

12 mins: Bellamy gets down the right wing, and his low cross looks dangerous until Ivanovic clears at the near post. Charlie Adams' corner is dismal.

13 mins: Then Glen Johnson goes on a run down the right wing. He beats two men without even trying, but then finds that running with the ball is considerably easier than deciding which other player he might pass it to, and eventually, just when something genuinely dangerous seems absolutely certain to happen, Cech just plucks it off his toe.

16 mins: David Luiz's clearance is charged down by Kuyt. The pair leave the pitch together, Luiz clinging on to Kuyt's shirt before giving him the most limp-wristed of slaps. "He just does silly little things," whinges Gary Neville.

18 mins: Adam intercepts the ball midway through Liverpool's own half and sprints forwards. He looks to have the beating of Luiz for pace – worrying indeed, for Chelsea – only for Suárez to latch onto the ball and be given offside.

22 mins: Drogba wins and takes a free-kick, 20 yards out. The ball goes a foot wide and bounces off the stanchion, only for Sky's commentary team to start exulting over a stunning goal. It isn't one.

25 mins: We've seen very little of Mata so far, that volleyed chance apart. When Chelsea work the ball to their right wing, it's invariably Ivanovic who gets it. Liverpool will be quite happy aboutt his, I'd have thought.

29 mins: Kuyt steals the ball in midfield and releases Suárez, who has four men to aim at and only two defenders to avoid as he approaches the penalty area, but his attempted pass to Maxi goes straight to David Luiz, who is clattered by Lucas as he clears the ball. Lucas is booked.

30 mins: Suárez does a little better when he doesn't have anyone to pass to, but he attempts one turn too many and loses control of the ball.

31 mins: Quite a good game this. No brilliant chances, but very much a sense that we could see one at any moment.

GOAL! Chelsea 0 Liverpool 1 (Maxi Rodríguez, 33 mins) Cech passes the ball to Mikel, who dithers and is dispossessed by Charlie Adam. From that moment Chelsea are in trouble. Suárez lays the ball back to Bellamy, who slides Maxi into enormous amounts of space on the left side of Chelsea's penalty area, and he gets just enough height on the ball to beat the dive of Cech.

36 mins: I do love it when I write a MBM comment that isn't instantly proved utterly idiotic (see 31 mins). "Well done on the foreshadowing in the 31st," writes David Naylor. "Do you see the future often?" Sadly, no.

40 mins: Liverpool deserve their lead here. They're disrupting Chelsea, who have now started to make basic mistakes in their rush to get rid of the ball before Lucas/Maxi/Bellamy arrives to kick it away from them. Lampard's the latest culprit, gifting the ball to Suárez. And now David Luiz is at it!

42 mins: Luiz attempts to pirouette the ball out of danger 20 yards from goal while surrounded by red shirts. Inevitably he loses it, and brings down Charlie Adam – with his hand, I think – to stop Liverpool capitalising. Luiz is booked, Suárez skies the free-kick.

44 mins: David Luiz tries to catch Suárez offside but Ivanovic on the other side of the pitch is playing him onside. The Uruguayan's eventual cross (possibly a shot) is deflected wide; Charlie Adam's corner is rubbish, again.

45 mins: Last attack of the half and Chelsea win a free-kick, just outside the penalty area, after Malouda is brought down by Johnson. The ball comes in, and Johnson heads it behind. This time Mata's delivery is headed wide by Luiz, and it's half-time.

45 mins: Peeep! Half-time. A good game for the neutral, in other words it's being played at a remorseless tempo and has featured ludicrous numbers of basic errors, most of them by Chelsea players. The right result, so far.

Half-time: Petr Cech's new improved protective headgear is attracting lots of attention. "He looks like one of the Joker's flunkies from Batman the 60s TV series," writes someone who appears to be called "+0+ '@'"

Still half-time, but not for long: Chelsea substitution ahoy: Daniel Sturridge is coming on for Mikel.

46 mins: Peeeep! They're off! Again!

47 mins: Sturridge will take Mata's place, which on the first-half showing involves meandering around the right flank without seeing the ball. Mata moves infield, to play off Drogba.

49 mins: Mata gets the ball and a tiny amount of space from Lampard's pass and plays the ball to Drogba, who shifts the ball onto his right foot and, just inside the penalty area, shoots over. Chelsea's best chance for a long while.

50 mins: Sturridge finds an excellent eye-of-the-needle pass to find Mata in Liverpool's penalty area, but Skrtel prods the ball out of play for a corner. Early pressure here from the home side.

52 mins: Liverpool's corners have been dismal today. Adam, having made a stinking horror of his first-half efforts, cedes duties to Bellamy, who does little better.

54 mins: Nice interplay between Bellamy and Enriqué down Liverpool's left wing, which ends with the Welshman being found in space, at the corner of the penalty area. His pass to Maxi is hit so firmly, though, that it's basically uncontrollable and the chance is wasted.

GOAL! Chelsea 1 (Daniel Sturridge, 55 mins) Liverpool 1 Malouda is allowed to run, and run, and run a bit more, until he's at the edge of the penalty area. His shanked shot turns into a perfect low cross, and Sturridge – booed not a minute earlier for pulling out of a challenge with Agger for a high ball – turns the ball home.

57 mins: What a save! Chelsea get a free-kick midway into the Liverpool half, on the left flank. Drogba curls the ball intop the area, Ivanovic (I think) flicks a header goalwards and Reina hurls himself down to turn the ball wide.

58 mins: So Chelsea appear to have discovered that the upside of Liverpool having four people pressurising their defence whenever they're in possession is that there aren't many people to pressurise their midfield when they get it.

62 mins: Once you get over the fact that the trophy itself has been auctioned off to an oil-rich emirate, it's quite a good Premier League this year, innit?

63 mins: Drogba nearly breaks through, but Reina hares out of his area to head the ball away from danger. His clearance lands at the feet of John Terry, just inside Liverpool's half, whose attempted 50-yard first-time lob lands 30 yards short and 40 yards wide.

64 mins: Kuyt is booked for pulling back Malouda.

66 mins: Ashley Cole's excellent low cross bounces right across the penalty area. Liverpool replace Craig Bellamy with Jordan Henderson.

70 mins: Mata chips the ball into the penalty area. Malouda controls excellently with his chest and attempts an overhead, which flies just wide. Nice effort. Chelsea are playing much better this half, evidently.

74 mins: Either Liverpool's players are just knackered, or they've been told not to close anybody down any more. Ramires just got an indecent amount of time on the ball, well inside Liverpool's half. Then Drogba nearly creates a chance for Sturridge with a smart backheel.

75 mins: Terrible miss! Ivanovic crosses from the right wing and the ball clears Mata, Lampard and Drogba, all in the six yard area, to find Malouda in oceans of space at the back stick. He spears it wide.

77 mins: Liverpool substitution: Downing comes on for Maxi.

79 mins: Brilliant skill from Suárez to suck in Luiz and then nutmeg him. Ivanovic ends his run with a pretty violent challenge and is booked.

80 mins: Another terrible set piece from Charlie Adam. "Has anyone seen our midfield? They were definitely there in the first half," wonders Phil Sawyer. "Did they decide to put their feet up and have a cuppa rather than coming out for the second half?"

82 mins: Fernando Torres is stripping off, and will get seven-odd minutes to make some headlines.

83 mins: And Meireles is coming on too.

84 mins: On they come, Torres replacing Drogba and Meireles coming on for Ramires.

86 mins: Liverpool's best chance of the half: Henderson crosses from the right, Downing lays the ball off to Kuyt and the Dutchman sidefoots the ball five yards wide from the edge of the area. Nice move, ugly finish.

GOAL! Chelsea 1 Liverpool 2 (Glen Johnson, 87 mins) Brilliant stuff from Johnson, who controls a long ball excellently, cuts inside Ashley Cole, sprints towards the penalty spot and curls a left-foot finish inside the far post. Chelsea dominated the first 40 minutes of this half, but Liverpool have capitalised on their three.

89 mins: Andy Carroll replaces Luis Suárez. So the headlines have been made by a player coming back to haunt their former club. Just not the one everybody was banging on about.

90 mins: We'll have three minutes of stoppage time here.

90+3 mins: I don't like to jump on a bandwagon, but Carroll's had perhaps five touches since he came on, and they've all been abysmal.

90+4 mins: Peeeeeeep! It's all over, and Liverpool have won!

Conclusion: A very enjoyable football match, that, with a phenomenal winning goal at the end of it. The second half bore little resemblance to the first, which Liverpool effectively controlled. With Mata seeing more of the ball from a more central position, and more importantly with Ramires enjoying time in possession that Mikel was never allowed, Chelsea were more comfortable and considerably more effective. Credit to them, then, for engineering such a turnaround. But that's all they're going to get, because Liverpool nicked all the points. So, Kenny Dalglish's managerial record for Liverpool against Chelsea: Played 12, won nine, drawn three, lost none. When does something like that stop being just coincidence and become very clearly the work of a higher being?