Afternoon. If you're here for the shit on a stick, you've come to the wrong place. Sure, matches between Chelsea and Liverpool were once the most tedious around but this one could be as entertaining as turning on your television on a Sunday morning and seeing a middle-aged man wearing an alice band. That's mostly down to Chelsea's admirable decision to forgo defensive discipline and instead build their side around three creative geniuses (not Milligan, Cleese, Everett).
The last three matches at Stamford Bridge have been absurd ripsnorters, Chelsea losing 3-2 to Manchester United in the league, beating them 5-4 in the League Cup and then edging out Shakhtar Donetsk 3-2 in an end-to-end thriller. In total, there have been 45 goals scored in 9 matches at Stamford Bridge this season, a rate of five goals a match. Chelsea have only kept two clean sheets at home too. All hail the new entertainers!
So there we have it. Another classic awaits, although Brendan Rodgers might be justified in not playing such an open game when Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar around, especially when Lucas isn't. Indeed Liverpool have only kept two clean sheets in the league – against Reading and Stoke at home – and have had problems scoring as well, an inevitable consequence of going into the season with only one senior striker. With that in mind, trying to take on this Chelsea side at their own game might not be the wisest move. Not that Liverpool should despair. After all, they've won five of their last six matches against Chelsea, including wins on their last three visits to Stamford Bridge. One problem though: Big Andy's not around to make mincemeat out of John Terry again.
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Terry, Ivanovic, Bertrand; Mikel, Ramires; Hazard, Oscar, Mata; Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Romeu, Moses, Ferreira, Marin, Sturridge, Cahill.
Liverpool: Jones; Johnson, Wisdom, Carragher, Agger, Jose Enrique; Allen,Gerrard, Sahin; Sterling, Suarez. Subs: Gulacsi, Cole, Assaidi, Henderson, Coates, Downing, Suso.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)
Tactics, yeah? "As a Liverpool fan, I'm a bit confused about the negativity surrounding the decision to play five at the back," Will Annetts says. "Assuming we adopt a 5-4-1 formation, it will give Enrique and Johnson more licence to get forward and support the attack without leaving the defence so exposed. Surely, given the lineup Rodgers has gone for today it also means that Gerrard and Sterling will either be playing wide as part of a four-man midfield, enabling Gerrard to get forward more, or there'll be a three-man midfield with Sterling playing off Suarez. One more point - didn't we play five at the back at least once at Stamford Bridge during Dalglish's second stint in charge? It worked then, so surely, now that we have a team with more pace, it's worth a try?"
That was a bit different, because Chelsea played with no width and were a confused mess with Torres, Drogba and Anelka all playing up front. But this formation did cause Everton problems in the second half two weeks ago and Chelsea are susceptible to quick counters. Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling will offer those.
At St James's Park, Kevin Nolan has scored at his old club to make it Newcastle 0-1 West Ham. He didn't do the chicken dance out of respect though.
Here come the players. In honour of Remembrance Sunday, they form a guard of honour for members of the armed forces. A round of applause follows. "As a fan of the Glorious Glasgow Rangers, I'm hoping today's game makes up for Celtic's depressing,jammy midweek victory
over Barcelona," Ryan Dunne says. "But surely I can't be the only one worried that 5-4-1 is a formation dangerously suggestive of shit-on-a-stick? 3-3-1-3ing that Liverpool line-up would be an improvement; I thought fans are giving Brentan time because he's making Liverpool play in a silky, Swansean way?"
A banner in the Liverpool end reads: "Without fans football is nothing." That's presumably a comment on the extortionate prices Chelsea charge away fans. "I seem to remember a 5-2-2-1 working extremely well in Fifa 2007 when I won the Champions League with Feyenoord Rotterdam," Daniel Schulwolf says. "Not sure how that translates to this game, but the inclusion of Carragher can't be a good thing for Liverpool's chances."
After a minute's silence, Liverpool get the ball rolling. All in red to Chelsea's blue, they're attacking from left to right in the first half. Liverpool's fans are informing their Chelsea counterparts that they have no history. Chelsea's are pointing to a bit of history that was made in Munich in May.
2 min: Liverpool's 5-3-2 is working brilliantly. Chelsea have barely had a kick!
3 min: A confident start from Liverpool. In true Brendan Rodgers style, they're knocking the ball about very nicely in midfield. Suddenly Gerrard ups the tempo, sliding a pass down the left for Agger of all people. He bursts into the area and goes down under a challenge from Ivanovic. Nothing doing, not that Agger seems too bothered.
5 min: Fernando Torres's first two contributions are to be caught offside and then give away a free-kick for a foul.
6 min: What a chance for Oscar after a horrible mix-up in the Liverpool defence. Here's the danger of, er, trying to keep the ball. Sometimes you lose it. Eh? You know what I mean. Allen was caught dozing by Torres near his own area and the ball squirted to Hazard. He prodded a pass through to Oscar but he lifted his shot over Jones and over the bar from 15 yards out. He should have scored. The form this kid's in, I'm staggered Chelsea aren't in front actually.
8 min: Azpilicueta charges up the right flank, but can't win a corner off Jose Enrique. 1-0 to Liverpool's Spaniard.
10 min: Sterling comes out on top in a tussle with Oscar on the halfway line and tries to run at the Chelsea defence, only to be halted by a firm challenge by the excellent Ramires.
12 min: Liverpool's passing has been excellent so far. Really good to watch. Over on the right, Bertrand deflects Johnson's cross behind for Liverpool's first corner. Ivanovic heads it behind at the far post. They'll get another chance.
13 min: Gerrard trots over to the left to take the second corner but it's easy for Cech. He instantly sets Torres away on the counter. He steams wonderfully past Wisdom on the halfway line before slipping a pass to Mata on the right. He moves it on to Hazard but his cutback gets a crucial touch from a Liverpool defender. Chelsea aren't seeing much of the ball but they have much more going forward than the visitors.
15 min: Liverpool are beating Chelsea 68-32.
16 min: In possession.
17 min: England manager Mr Roy is in the crowd watching his beloved Liverpool. "So, on 3 minutes, Liverpool were 'knocking the ball about very nicely in midfield'?" Matt Dony says. "Sounds about right. You may as well just copy-and-paste that for every other entry, right up until the inevitable defensive/goalkeeping/refereeing howler gives away a soft goal in the 80th minute. Probably scored by Torres. Please don't let it be Torres. Or Terry. Ah, I think I'll just go to bed."
19 min: Carragher concedes a needless free-kick with a push on the back on Torres 35 yards from goal. No way to treat an old friend. Mata tees up Ivanovic for a pop; the ball's still rising.
GOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool (Terry, 20 min): There will not be a simpler goal scored all weekend. This is absolutely risible defending from Liverpool and Daniel Agger in particular. After Torres won a corner off Enrique on the right, Mata curled it in and Terry was allowed the freedom of the area by Agger to bullet a header into the top-right corner from 12 yards out. Jones didn't have a chance. There was barely a Liverpool defender within five yards of Terry. Awful.
22 min: All the talk of formations but that had nothing to do with tactics. Human Error 1-0 The Chalkboard.
23 min: Mind you, it was so naive from Liverpool because Agger managed to get himself into a position where he could be blocked off by Ivanovic to give Terry a free run. It's not as if Chelsea have been pulling that one off for the last 10 years.
25 min: Agger looks to redeem himself for his mistake, shooting from 40 yards out. The ball sails off in the direction of Craven Cottage.
27 min: Liverpool are rocking here and Chelsea could be out of sight. Under severe pressure, Hazard somehow manages to wriggle clear of three markers in the middle. He's outstanding. With Liverpool's defence at sixes and sevens, he finds Torres, whose curler from the left is pushed out by Jones but only as far as Hazard, who awkwardly hooks the rebound wide on the volley. Liverpool really miss Lucas.
29 min: "I wonder if Matt Dony made it into bed before the goal," Simon McMahon says. "If Torres joins Terry on the scoresheet can you ask him for his lottery numbers for next week please?"
30 min: Liverpool have no way of stopping Chelsea's attacking trio. Once again Hazard bursts forward at will but overhits his pass through to Mata, Jones out quickly to smother. Up the other end, Sahin has a whack from the edge of the area. Not bad, but it fizzes a couple of yards wide of the right post. Cech probably had it covered.
32 min: Enrique crosses. Liverpool don't have a striker. Easy for Terry. "Brendan has decided the quickest way to get possession back at a corner is to concede a goal," Niall Mullen says. "Hence the lack of marking, players on the post etc. Viva la revolucion!"
33 min: Chelsea have managed to save some face, pulling the score back to 67-33. It's a long way back from there though.
35 min: Terry is down after an accidental collision with Suarez. He might be seriously hurt. It sounded like there was a scream of pain when he fell. The Chelsea physios are on. It looks like his knee, writes Dr Steinberg.
36 min: It was a complete accident. Suarez ran at Terry but got a little push from Ramires, causing him to fall down on Terry's standing leg, which crumpled under the pressure. There's no way he's going to continue.
37 min: Gary Cahill is getting ready to come on for the stricken Terry.
38 min: Terry is able to bend his knee, so maybe it's not so bad. The stretcher's out though.
40 min: Terry's taken off on a stretcher. On comes Gary Cahill. The injury doesn't look quite as serious as first feared though, writes Dr Steinberg.
41 min: A few of you have seen the open goal presented by the Terry and Suarez incident. Step away from the open goal, people. "Yup, same old Liverpool alright," SB Tang says. "Dominating possession. Failing to convert said possession into goals. Conceding comedic goals at the other end. As predictable as United going behind early then scoring at the death to win games. Bah humbug."
43 min: "Jose Enrique has had a lot of the ball," Martin Tyler says. Is that good for Liverpool or for Chelsea?
45 min: Suarez is being crowded out every time he gets the ball. He just has no support. Gerrard tries a half-hearted shot from the right. It dribbles straight at Cech. That was so lame. There will be five minutes of stoppage time.
45 min+1: Liverpool's defence is never too far away from disaster. Now Wisdom fails to deal with an innocuous flick from Torres, nearly letting Oscar in, but Jones is out quickly to rescue to youngster.
45 min+3: Sahin is a lovely player but has sadly been irrelevant in many of his appearances for Liverpool so far.
45 min+4: Mata lets Liverpool off the hook after another fine mess in their defence. There really should have been no danger at all after a spot of scrapiness in the middle but for some reason the Liverpool defence parted, allowing Oscar to head Mata clear. He cut inside from the right, nutmegged Wisdom and then blasted the ball over the bar from the edge of the area. Why did he shoot so early? He had so much time.
Half time: Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool. A bit of a non-event to be honest. Chelsea have been good when they've needed to be and could be two or three up. Instead they've had to settle for John Terry's early header, before seeing their captain go off with an apparently serious injury. Liverpool are blunt.
The big story of the day is that West Ham are up to sixth place after a 1-0 win away to Newcastle. Kevin Nolan got the winner against his former club.
46 min: Here we go again. Neither side has made any substitutions. "Is SB Tang trying to become the new Gary Naylor?" Fraser Thomas wonders. "A Google search reveals: Gary Naylor + Guardian = 459,000 hits; SB Tang + Guardian = 15,300,000. Forgive me, I'm abroad on a business trip and my crappy illegal internet feed has gone down. I'm very, very bored. PS You are astonishingly good looking."
47 min: Jose Enrique expertly guides the ball out for a Chelsea throw-in. To my right, Gregg Bakowski exclaims: "He's becoming more and more like Dossena."
50 min: Joe Allen, far too self-indulgent this afternoon, is caught dawdling again by Torres in his own half and reacts by hauling down the striker. He's booked.
51 min: This feels like a match between title challengers and mid-table nonentities. I'm not sure why.
52 min: Suarez reacts furiously after being penalised for illegally levering Ivanovic out of the way on the edge of the area. It was a foul.
53 min: Liverpool invite a shot from Mata from 25 yards out. He obliges but it swerves a few yards wide of the far post.
55 min: Liverpool need to think about getting making a substitution. Unfortunately Stewart Downing is on the bench, which maybe makes their reluctance more understandable. But why not Suso?
56 min: Johnson is booked for using an arm to fend off Oscar. The Chelsea fans want a red card for an elbow, only problem being that it wasn't an elbow.
57 min: Jones makes another save to deny Torres! The free-kick was curled in dangerously from the left by Hazard and Torres got ahead of his marker to skim a header goalwards, Jones sticking out a hand to push it out. Torres then goes down trying to reach the rebound. No penalty, but Chelsea continue to press. Cahill's cross then falls to Mikel in the middle of the area. He would score, but he's John Obi Mikel, so produces a comical air-swipe instead. Take that, air! The ball pings about the area until Howard Webb finally stops play with Gerrard injured in the six-yard box.
59 min: Gerrard walks off for treatment. He took a blow to the head, but will be fine to continue.
60 min: Liverpool make their first change, Suso replacing the disappointing Nuri Sahin.
61 min: Brendan Rodgers is fond about speaking about the "journey". It might be a long one for Liverpool. Patience is a virtue.
63 min: Liverpool are struggling to keep the ball for more than four or five passes. Chelsea will really have to go some to lose this match. "I wouldn't say Liverpool are title challengers just yet, but I see what you mean about the match," honks Matt Dony. "(If I don't laugh, I'll cry...)"
64 min: Chelsea really want that second goal. Bertrand finds space on the left and drives a low cross into the near post, but Torres can't make enough contact with the ball. Liverpool escape again. As long as Chelsea continue to waste opportunites, Liverpool have a chance. A very slim one though.
66 min: "The Sky graphic has just revealed that Liverpool have not had a single attempt at goal on target," says Simon McMahon. "They do know that the point of playing football is to score goals, right? At this rate they'll be lucky to get nil." What are you on about? Think of the possession! It's death by football.
67 min: Gerrard is booked after being made to look rather old by Oscar.
68 min: Mata curls the free-kick into a horrible area from the right. Torres can't rise high enough and Jones comes out flapping but is extremely fortunate that the ball deflects off Mikel and behind for a goal-kick. Liverpool aren't very good when they have to defend set-pieces.
70 min: After more dismal play from Liverpool inside their own half, Ramires slices one well over the top. The only danger for Chelsea is if they get too casual, because this is too easy for them.
GOAL! Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool (Suarez, 73 min): Chelsea have paid for their profligacy and there was just a hint that they were growing too complacent. Again it's terrible defending from a set-piece. After a positive run, Wisdom won a corner on the right. Suso curled it into the near post, Carragher flicked it to the far post and Suarez got clear to head it in from close range. He could hardly miss. But there were two unchallenged headers there. I'm not quite sure how this one's level. But there you go. That's football.
75 min: This is one of those games where it got too easy for Chelsea. They really should be three or four up and now they don't even lead by one.
76 min: But the Liverpool goal seems to have made Chelsea angry. Bertrand beats Wisdom with alarming ease on the left, before haring into the area. Instead of shooting he tries to cut it back for a team-mate. It's cut out.
77 min: Oscar is replaced by Victor Moses, who has scored in his last two appearances for Chelsea.
78 min: "Can anyone tell me who at Chelsea thinks it is a good idea for Mikel to be a box-to-box midfielder?" says Luke Garratt. "He's popping up in the 18yard box more than Lampard did in his heyday!" The weird thing about Mikel is that when United and Chelsea were trying to sign him all those years ago, he was meant to be an attacking midfielder.
79 min: And now Mikel's been booked for a foul on Suso.
80 min: For the 754th time this afternoon, Jose Enrique is caught offside. "Heartening to see that Suarez is as popular with his team mates as he is with the world in general," says Rich North. "They didn't seem much keen on celebrating with him ..."
82 min: It's another miserable outing for Fernando Torres against Liverpool. He's replaced by Daniel Sturridge, who is his own biggest fan.
84 min: Gerrard sends Sterling scampering clear down the right flank, albeit with little support. So he bides his time and waits for some, and when it does come he finds Suso in the area. But the pass is just behind him and the Spaniard can only scoop the ball harmlessly wide. That was a decent chance. Suddenly Liverpool look the more likely winners.
86 min: Suarez tries to beat Cech from way out on the right touchline. Behave.
87 min: A corner to Chelsea on the left. Mata whips it in and Ivanovic nuts it powerfully over. But up the other end...
88 min: Jose Enrique clips the ball over the square Chelsea defence for Suarez, who's clean through on goal. He tries to prod the ball around Cech but the Chelsea goalkeeper, having raced way out of his area, comes up with a brilliant, match-saving tackle to deny him. That's exceptional goalkeeping.
90 min: Hazard rams a fierce one a few yards wide of the right post. It's petering out into a draw now.
90 min: There will be four minutes of added time.
90 min+4: Liverpool go close to winning it with the last attacj of the match! Sterling darts across the area from the right and finds Suarez. He rolls it to Enrique, who's got a clear sight of goal, but his low left-footer is well parried by Cech down at his near post. The corner comes to nothing.
Full time: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool. For a long time, it looked like Liverpool were going to be on the end of a pasting. Instead they've somehow escaped with a draw thanks to Luis Suarez's late header. They could even have won it in the end. They're still 13th though, while Chelsea, who wasted a number of chances to wrap it up, are third, three points behind Manchester United. They need a new striker. Thanks for reading. Bye.