Liverpool have played well again, not as well as they played at Manchester City, but they have nothing to show for it again. Their defence is not quite there yet and Luis Suarez's influence was minimal. He should have had a penalty at the end, though. Again. Expect to hear more on that. Chelsea were the better side, though, and were professional and experienced when they had to shut the game down. Jose Mourinho is their manager. What does it all mean? Chelsea are a point behind Manchester City and two behind Arsenal, while Liverpool are in fifth, six points off the pace and one below Everton. They were top on Christmas Day. Now they're not in the top four. Thanks for reading. Bye.
Full-time: Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool
90 min+5: So a free-kick to Liverpool on the halfway line. Mignolet goes up. The ball is headed away. Smith can't do anything with it. On the touchline, Mourinho is geeing up the crowd, ever the showman.
90 min+4: It's all ending in heated fashion, Lucas and Oscar clashing. Oscar steamed through Lucas, who reacted angrily, grabbing his face, before players from both sides get involved. Webb books Oscar.
90 min+3: Mourinho sides know how to win. David Luiz is launching the ball into orbit every chance he gets. Liverpool have it back, though. Now or never.
90 min+2: Henderson gives Hazard enough of a reason to go over on the right, Webb blowing for a Chelsea free-kick. Henderson bellows some abuse at the Chelsea man.
90 min+1: "No it is not," says Tom Chivers in answer to my question about bias. "See: confirmation bias, availability heuristic, affect heuristic and various other mental shortcuts. Human minds are essentially a collection of useful biases."
90 min: Liverpool replace Sakho with Kolo Toure. There will be four minutes of added time but the ball is deep in Liverpool's half and Chelsea have it and they're taking their sweet time over this throw.
89 min: Fernando Torres should make the game safe for Chelsea but the game is not safe for Chelsea. He raced down the right to reach a long ball before Sakho, who can hardly move after twanging a hamstring. Torres realises his opponents is stricken and streams past him and into the area. He feints to shoot, dropping a shoulder to beat Skrtel, but then places his left-footed shot too close to Mignolet. Mourinho is annoyed.
88 min: Suarez is chuntering away in Webb's ear after another decision goes Chelsea's way.
86 min: Samuel Eto'o has succumbed to cramp. Winter break, please! Fernando Torres is on for the Cameroonian, who could well prove to be Chelsea's matchwinner.
85 min: Coutinho pushes a pass through to Suarez but he pushes too hard. Suarez glares at his team-mate.
84 min: Unfortunately for Suarez, his reputation might precede him. Is it possible for human beings not to be biased, even when they don't realise it?
83 min: Iago Aspas replaces Glen Johnson.
82 min: Suarez diddles his way into the Chelsea area on the left but he's crowded out. Then, as Azpilicueta races away with the ball, Eto'o has a rush of blood to the head and cleans out Suarez inside the area! What on earth was he thinking of? That should be a penalty to Liverpool and you'll be hearing more about that later. I can understand why Webb didn't see it, though, because it was near the ball but off the ball.
81 min: I jest about Willian, by the way. He's had a very busy game.
80 min: "CAHM ON CHEWLSEE!" bellow the Chewlsee fans.
79 min: Suarez fizzes the free-kick towards the far post but Cech punches it away.
78 min: Gary Cahill is booked for scything down Luis Suarez. The pair will be facing each other in the World Cup, of course. Suarez will remember that. Liverpool have a free-kick on the left.
77 min: Liverpool just can't build any momentum. Perhaps their energy has been sapped by that huge effort against City.
75 min: Hazard relieves the pressure with a purposeful run on the left. He didn't have the pace to beat Sterling but he did have the skill. He points which way he's going to go, goes there and then shoots wide of the near post.
74 min: And Suarez does get involved, holding off Luiz, beating Mikel and finding Johnson. He cuts inside on to his underrated left foot and Cech has to react smartly to push his shot behind for a corner.
72 min: In two games against Manchester City and Chelsea, Luis Suarez is yet to threaten a goal once. If ever you needed proof that one man does not make a team at the highest level, there it is. Liverpool can't get him in the game and he can't get himself into it. Chelsea look like they know what they are doing, not that you can ever discount Suarez producing a moment of magic.
70 min: Liverpool are trying their hardest to give Chelsea a third goal. They refuse to stop fannying about with the ball at the back, even though they're getting a taste of their own three-quarter press medicine. Oscar scraps and harries to nick possession before getting up to curl one not too far wide of the far post from the left.
69 min: Eto'o is booted up the backside by Skrtel. Chelsea are awarded a free-kick in David Luiz territory. He locates the wall.
68 min: Make that 3-0 to Tottenham, Aaron Lennon deepening Stoke's misery.
67 min: Willian has been tracking back diligently and that's what dreams are made of.
64 min: Another look at that incident shows that Terry was defending in as clumsily as he could possibly get away with. Mousa Dembele has made it Tottenham 2-0 Stoke. That would be more impressive if Stoke didn't have four players left after the Boxing Day shenanigans at Newcastle.
63 min: Suarez, who has been anonymous by his standards, is clunked to the floor by Luiz on the left. Liverpool have a chance to load the box. Coutinho curls the ball in and it's deflected up into the air in the six-yard box. Suarez falls with Terry's arms round his shoulders and the Liverpool fans behind the goal scream "KJFFKLWWFNREWNFEDKRWNFKEWNFKEFR!!!!!!!" which translates to "Excuse me, Mr Referee, I believe that was a penalty?" Mr Referee does not concur.
62 min: So, Liverpool have brought on a 19-year-old debutant and have a 16-year-old on the bench. And Iago Aspas.
61 min: David Luiz curves a cracking ball down the inside-right channel but for once Skrtel is alive to the danger and stops Eto'o in his tracks. The resultant corner flies all the way through the box.
60 min: Smith on, Allen off.
59 min: Joe Allen is limping. He's down and probably won't continue. Liverpool are going to bring on Brad Smith, a 19-year-old who was born in Australia before coming to England when he was 14.
58 min: Coutinho ducks inside from the left but his effort is blocked. Chelsea counter but Eto'o takes too long to release the pass. Anxiety grows. The howls get louder.
57 min: Luis Suarez almost produces a carbon-copy of his goal against Cardiff last week. Coutinho won the ball on the edge of the Chelsea area and played it to Henderson on the left. He lifted it to the edge of the area and Suarez watched it fall before volleying straight at Cech. "Your photo at the start of the match seems to show that if Skrtel wears Luiz's hair he turns into Steve Macmanaman," says Robin Hazlehurst. "Which not improve Liverpool's defence much."
56 min: Liverpool mess about with at the back and Oscar wins a corner for Chelsea on the left. Up come the big lads. But Oscar's delivery is a disgrace.
54 min: Simon Mignolet keeps Liverpool in the match by denying Eto'o a second goal. Eto'o, just about kept onside, was slipped through by Hazard down the inside-right channel. He took a few touches and then tried to batter a shot past Mignolet at his near post but the Belgian stayed strong and managed to divert it over the bar! What a miss. He really should have gone across goal and scored. Chelsea might regret that.
52 min: Sakho hits the bar for Liverpool! They won a free-kick on the right after a foul by Cole on Johnson. Chelsea went to sleep and allowed Liverpool to take it quickly to Henderson, who dinked a lovely ball into the box, where Sakho looped a header towards goal from 12 yards out. Time stood still and so did Cech, who seemed to think it was going over, but the ball hit the angle of post and bar and bounced to safety.
51 min: It's been a low-key, stop-start opening six minutes to the second half. Not much to write about, to be honest. I'm not lying.
50 min: David Luiz is booked for a cynical tug back on Allen, who's really been in the wars. Leave Joe Allen alone! Leave him alone! Luiz will be suspended for Chelsea's trip to Southampton on New Year's Day. "This is where our lack of depth really hurts us," says Paul Ewart. "Chelsea have been superb, Brendan really needs to change things but he has no options." What Chelsea have done especially well is cut off the supply to Suarez. United did the same in January.
47 min: Liverpool are seething after Terry clatters into Allen in an aerial challenge, flinging an arm into the midfielder's face. It wasn't an elbow. It was, er, an arm. He's booked.
46 min: Chelsea have been forced into another change at half-time. Frank Lampard has picked up a thigh strain and everyone's favourite exponent of standing around, John Obi Mikel, is on. On the touchline, Brendan looks very svelte all in black. "As a Liverpool fan, I'd be delighted to be dismissed as 'flat-track bullies'," says Matt Dony. "It's a great improvement on a few seasons of being dismissed as 'crap'. No one really, truly, honestly believes that they're going to compete with City or Chelsea across a whole season, but the improvement on recent years is clear and heartening. Being in the mix for a top four spot was the most we hoped for, and it's realistically what we'll be fighting for in April. It wasn't long ago we were watching Milan Jovanavic and Paul Konchesky..."
"Jacob isn't it nice to see a referee in a nice sensible old-school black strip, instead of dressing up like an attention-getting circus clown in mauve or a wretched shade of yellow?" says Ed Shelton. "Why do they do that? Good shout, Howard!"
I was at Aston Villa v Tottenham in October and Roberto Soldado was the only player wearing black boots on either team. Fancy-dan foreigners...
"And, assuming Chelsea hold on to the win, Manchester United would be closing even more ominously on...5th," says Robin Cannon. "There's a troublesome (and still, apparently, very oft forgotten) Everton team in this narrative!"
How could I leave out Roberto Martinez's heroes? Hope they win the league - genuinely.
Half-time: Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool
Howard Webb brings an end to a fine first half. Liverpool took the lead early through Martin Skrtel but this is Jose Mourinho at home. Samuel Eto'o and Mamadou Sakho swap shirts as they walk off, which is close than Skrtel managed to get to the Chelsea striker for his goal.
45 min+2: Martin Tyler has just pointed out that there are no Premier League referees from London. "They're a bit daft up north, that's why," chortles Gary Neville.
45 min: There will be three minutes of added time.
44 min: "If this continues the way it does, can we dismiss Liverpool as flat-track bullies for the remainder of the season?" says Matt Richman. "Barring a collapse by Arsenal, City and Chelsea, I don't foresee any real title push from here on." Well it would be remiss of me not to point out that they have beaten both Tottenham and Manchester United. But no one expected a title challenge at the start of the season and the simple truth of the matter is that Chelsea, City and Arsenal have better players. Top four should be the target. But Manchester United are closing in ominously.
42 min: Petr Cech makes a good save to frustrate Joe Allen. Glen Johnson played a neat pass round Cole for Sterling to chase down the right flank. He tried to find Henderson in the middle but Cahill got in the way, only for his half-clearance to come to Allen, whose firm drive across goal was pushed away by Cech. The rebound finds its way to Suarez on the left but he's too far wide and the prize for Chelsea is a goal-kick.
40 min: David Luiz puts the ball out of play so Eden Hazard can get some treatment. He's claiming he was on the end of a stray elbow to the jaw. Johnson is booked.
39 min: Chelsea are wheeling out the flicks, tricks and backheels now. It's samba football with Jose! "In the interest of straight records, I would like to point out in relation to your demeaning pre-goal comments that Suarez has lost the ball with most of his contributions today, whereas Eto'o has not," says Louis Wilson. "We need to be careful of eulogising around a man as brilliant as Suarez!"
36 min: Just like against City, Liverpool find themselves 2-1 down in the first half after taking the lead. Chelsea smell blood. "As a Liverpool fan I'm painfully aware that fine words butter no parsnips," says Niall Mullen. "Sadly neither does Brendan's management-speak twaddle. Points & wins please." Meanwhile a Roberto Soldado penalty has made it Tottenham 1-0 Stoke. Come on, Tim!
GOAL! Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool (Eto'o, 34 min)
Samuel Eto'o has touched the ball now. This is truly pathetic defending from Liverpool, though, and Simon Mignolet hasn't really covered himself in glory. Cesar Azpilicueta powered down the right and managed to hook a pass into the area for Oscar. He didn't really do anything but his presence befuddled Sakho, who just stood there and allowed the ball to bounce off his thigh and back to Oscar. He wriggled clear and managed to turn the ball into the six-yard box, where Eto'o stole in front of Skrtel to and slid in to poke the softest of shots goalwards. It was travelling no faster than a pea might travel but Mignolet allowed it to squirm underneath him and into the bottom corner.
33 min: Hazard twists, turns and taunts Johnson on the left but his low cutback is cut back to a red shirt.
32 min: I'm not sure if Eto'o has touched the ball yet. But you can be sure that Suarez has. A delightful flick behind Cole has Sterling skipping away down the right flank, the youngster outpacing the veteran straight away. But with little support in the middle, he seems at a loss about what he should do and so he more or less does nothing, Cech collecting a harmless chip that was neither cross nor shot. That was a waste.
30 min: A few loose passes from both sides eventually results in Suarez surging at the Chelsea defence. He tries to slide a pass through to Sterling but it's cut out, only for Coutinho to pick up the pieces on the left. He jinks inside and shoots. Terry blocks. The ball flies out for a throw and that allows Ashley Cole to come on and replace Ivanovic, who can't continue. His reunion with Luis Suarez is over. That was underwhelming.
28 min: Ivanovic has run back on. So brave. Here, look at some pictures, you don't need my words.
27 min: Branislav Ivanovic is injured. Luis Suarez is on the pitch. Calm down, it's not what you think. Ivanovic simply seemed to pull a muscle when he slipped on the greasy surface. Nothing more than that. Unless Suarez had a nibble when we weren't looking.
25 min: Liverpool give Chelsea something to think about for the first time since conceding and almost regain their lead, to boot. This was a wonderful move. Suarez found Henderson and his clever lob released the onrushing Allen, who was in behind the Chelsea defence. He controlled the ball on his chest but it wouldn't fall quickly enough for him to shoot, allowing Cahill to get back and deny him with a meaty challenge, conceding a corner in the process.
24 min: Chelsea are dominating here. It's easy to forget how difficult it is to play away at a Mourinho side. What's more, they're knocking the ball about at quite some pelt. Luiz sprays it out to Willian, who cuts inside and returns it to his fellow Brazilian, who carefully places a shot into the upper tier from the edge of the area.
22 min: "Where's Juan Mata?" says Justin Kavanagh. "Inside of Mourinho's envelope, by the looks of things, and hopefully soon on his way to a club where his talents are appreciated."
20 min: Oscar is running a few too many rings around Lucas at the moment. Chelsea's response since falling behind has been outstanding. Their intensity has not allowed Liverpool to settle.
19 min: This is a mighty fine game of football. Defending be damned. Who needs tactics?
GOAL! Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool (Hazard, 17 min)
This is too good from Eden Hazard. Let's face it, it was never going to stay 1-0. Chelsea sliced their way through midfield far too easily for Brendan's liking and Oscar suddenly found himself with a chance to run at Liverpool's exposed back four. He was stopped, a defender getting his foot in, but not decisively enough. The ball rolled to Hazard and with barely a moment's hesitation, he shaped an unstoppable curler into the top-right corner from 20 yards out, the shot past Mignolet in a flash. It was so nonchalant. Hazard is criticised for failing to turn up in big matches sometimes, but he's turned up here all right! On the touchline, Mourinho is enjoying himself.
16 min: Where's Juan Mata?
15 min: Lucas, who was the last man, takes a chance trying to elude Eto'o, who is this far away from nicking the ball off the Brazilian. "Jeremy Boyce's view of the Mourinho mind games dept.'s inner workings seems sound," says Justin Kavanagh. "But surely Brendan Rogers, as an ex-employee, will have the “helicopter view” on all this? What Mou should do is hand Brendan an envelope with his name in it just before kick-off."
13 min: Chelsea legend Avram Grant is at Stamford Bridge. Here's hope he enjoyed a pleasant pre-match meal of brains.
12 min: This is brilliant. It will not, mark my words, stay 1-0. Mark my words. Mignolet, who was at fault for Negredo's winner for City on Thursday, preserves Liverpool's lead with a magnificent save. Lampard, rolling back the years, let fly from 30 yards and it looked - for all the world - like it was going to whistle into the top-right corner, only for Mignolet to tip it over with his 'wrong' hand. Liverpool deal with the corner.
11 min: Chelsea scream for a penalty as Hazard dribbles into the area from the left and goes down under a challenge from Lucas. Hazard looked like he was playing for it and Howard Webb agrees.
In other news, we (ok, I), owe an apology to Peter Oh. "Oh Jacob!" he says. "I was being sarcastic and my last sentence (redacted!) was meant to show that! Here i thought i was making a funny comment on today's culture of obsessive over-interpretation of pointless details such as pre match handshakes and now I'm made to look like a complete ass on your mbm! Sniff sniff!"
10 min: This is a very good game of football. More please! Classic please! Jose Mourinho will probably put a stop to all this larking about soon enough, though, so enjoy it while it lasts.
7 min: Chelsea are well aware of Liverpool's vulnerability at set-pieces and from a Lampard free-kick on the left, Cahill thuds a powerful header not too far wide. A warning.
6 min: Liverpool have no intention of sitting back. Their ethos is not to protect what they hold. Sterling, who has been so impressive lately, skips away from Oscar effortlessly on the right and tries to curl a cross to the far post to Suarez, but Lampard has tracked back well and heads the ball to Cech.
5 min: And what a start to his match! Chelsea almost equalise instantly. Lampard seized on a loose ball on the edge of the area and moved it to the left for Hazard. With Sakho failing to get tight enough, Hazard drilled a low skidder towards the far corner, Mignolet patting it out into the six-yard box, where the ball clattered back towards goal off Liverpool's hero, Skrtel, so often the source of an own goal or two. Luckily Glen Johnson was on hand to whack it clear. Thunk!
GOAL! Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool (Skrtel, 4 min)
Martin Skrtel celebrates nicking David Luiz's hair by giving Liverpool the lead! What a terrible goal for Chelsea to concede. What an unMourinho goal for Chelsea to concede. With Henderson still off the pitch, Coutinho swung the free-kick towards the near post from the left. Suarez and Ivanovic both threw themselves off the ball and it squirted away from both of them, the pair falling to the floor as they grappled. With Cech already committed, the ball fell to Skrtel and he couldn't miss from two yards out. What a start for Liverpool!
3 min: Before the free-kick, Henderson is led off the pitch by the physio to receive more treatment. He's sore. Though he'll be feeling a bit better now, because...
2 min: An early free-kick for Liverpool over on the left, Eto'o barging into Henderson and catching him full on his knee with his studs. Webb doesn't book him. He must be a Manc. Meanwhile, just for Peter Oh, we have proof of what Skrtel would look like with David Luiz's hair. Thanks to Duncan Smith.
Peep! We begin. Well, Chelsea begin. They're kicking from right to left in the first half, attacking the Shed End. John Terry doesn't take long to blooter one in the general direction of Eto'o, who can't do anything with it. Sakho is playing on the left for Liverpool. Suarez then moves near Ivanovic for the first time but resists the urge to take a chomp.
"What's with the conjecture about what Skrtel would look like with David Luiz's hair?!" moans Peter Oh. "I thought this was a serious football site, sigh."
Peter's now off to tell off some children for laughing.
The managers walk out. Mourinho puts his arm round Rodgers, just for a moment. Then he withdraws it. Rodgers now has a "KICK ME!" sign on his back.
The teams are in the tunnel, both of them wearing tracksuit tops. Meanwhile Jeremy Boyce has a theory. Take it away, Boycie. "Just read your preamble, about the cosy Brendan/Jose "menage a deux", and your theory about all his (The Special/Contented/Grumpy One) other "foes" over the years... for me, you can forget Wenger and Benitez, they fell right into Jose's trap of getting wrapped up in talking about the match (in prospect) and players (selected or not/cheats or not/bought or sold...). where Jose and Earl Ferg won time and time again was in getting everybody talking about other stuff (hairdryers/squeakybums/teacups/Specialness/referees/biased press...), thereby totally diverting attention away from their players, allowing them to get on with playing the game, clocking up the 3 points by grinding out endless dour 1-0s...er i mean...enthralling the public with their teams' flowing footie. with all due repsect to two nonetheless great managers, Wenger and Benitez were too precious and thin-skinned to truly take them on at that game. and none of their (J and F) logical successors have ever managed it either, poor AVB being just the latest in line. so, Brendan, how about it ?"
"How do think Skrtel warms up for a match?" says JR in Illinois. "Do you think he uses those hand gripper exercise things so he can get a stronger hold on his opponent's shirt? I predict Skrtel is going to get one or both of his arms caught in David Luiz's hair today. And this has led me to consider what Skrtel would look like if you put Luiz's hair on him. Pretty silly I would wager."
My nailed-on prediction is that Skrtel will give away a penalty for shirt-pulling at a corner.
"Liverpool's away form this season is far inferior to their performances at home (c. all commentators)," says Jake Lynch. "But look who we've played on the road: Citeh, Spurs, Newcastle, Everton, Arsenal. They all still have to visit Anfield in the second half of the season. Of the present top eight, only Man U is an away fixture for Rogers' men between now and the end of the season."
Everton have also beaten Southampton 2-1, so Liverpool are currently in fifth place, a point behind the Toffees.
Arsenal have beaten Newcastle 1-0 so neither Chelsea nor Liverpool can go top with a win this afternoon. The leaders on New Year's Eve have won the league in each of the past four seasons.
Previously in this fixture, Chelsea come back from 2-0 down to win this FA Cup classic in 1997. What a goal from Gianfranco Zola.
"You clearly learned nothing from Heidegger's Being:Liverpool, Jacob," says Paul Ewart. "Brendan is his own mentor. He educates dogs too."
Jose Mourinho resists the urge to play 10 defensive midfielders and goes with three behind the striker, but drops Juan Mata to the bench. The wretch. With Ramires suspended, David Luiz is in midfield, while Dave starts at left-back instead of Ashley Cole and Samuel Eto'o starts up front instead of Fernando Torres. Demba Ba is nowhere to be seen. Liverpool make one change to the side that lost at City, Daniel Agger replacing Aly Cissokho. Jordan Rossiter, a 16-year-old, is named on the bench.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; David Luiz, Lampard; Willian, Oscar, Hazard;Eto'o. Subs: Schwarzer, Cole, Essien, Mikel, Schurrle,Mata, Torres.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Sakho; Lucas, Allen, Henderson; Sterling, Suarez, Coutinho. Subs: Jones, Toure, Alberto, Aspas, Cissokho, Rossiter, Smith.
Referee: Howard Webb (Not Manchester).
Hello. Much as people like to tell Chewlsay that they ain't got no 'isto-wee, there's plenty of the stuff between them and Liverpool, especially where Jose Mourinho is concerned, be it shushing Liverpool supporters, complaining about ghost goals, conveniently forgetting that Petr Cech would have been sent off if the referee hadn't played an advantage or Robert Huth's False Nine stint. Unfortunately Mourinho's 2005 sparring partner and occasional punchbag, Rafael Benitez, isn't around any more, so we'll have to get by without the shit on a stick. and settle for Mourinho's BFF, Brendan Rodgers, reality TV star, part-time envelope salesman and purveyor of entertaining football and ludicrous conspiracy theories about referees. The two are mates and Rodgers has spent the build-up praising his former mentor, who he worked with at Chelsea, for giving him the "self-esteem" he needed to succeed in management.
Whether Mourinho is entirely comfortable with the idea of a title rival cosying up to him is questionable - other than Sir Alex Ferguson, of course. That has never been how he's worked. Mourinho has always thrived on conflict, on winding up those who threaten his place at the top of the pile; Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Benitez have all been on the end of it and all three found it extremely difficult to ignore. Anyone is capable of making a big noise but not everyone is capable of making you listen to it. Mourinho, charismatic and clever, makes you listen, whether you like it or not. This week, he has called Arsenal boring and said they like to cry about fouls, while also making sure to point out that Liverpool's good form is down to their failure to qualify for Europe. At the start of the season, some people suspected that Mourinho didn't really want to be back at Chelsea, that the mischievous spark had given way to middle-aged fatigue, but the way he's been acting over the past few days suggests he's rediscovered his mojo. The glint in the eye is back.
It's taken a while to emerge. There have been times this season when Mourinho seemed to forget who he is, the preposterous Happy Josepersona threatening to consume him, so much so that he wasn't far off waxing lyrical about the virtues of tiki-taka, putting an umlaut in his name and setting up a Twitter account called @JöseTweets, with #teamfollowback in the bio. But signs are he's seen the error of his ways. He's got Wenger in his sights now and he's also resuming the war on fun. Before the Arsenal game on Monday, Chelsea had conceded 10 goals in five matches, a totally unacceptable state of affairs for Mourinho. He warned he was bringing boring back; in came a third midfielder at the Emirates and that 0-0 draw was followed by a 1-0 win against Swansea on Boxing Day. He might 1-0 his way to the title, you know, and it would have nothing to do with his players and everything do with him, because Chelsea do not possess a title-winning squad. They don't have a proper striker, the midfield is turgid and the defence, while strong, is not as remorselessly impregnable.
Liverpool will fancy their chances this afternoon. They were desperately unfortunate not to take something from their game against Manchester City and although they lost, their performance proved that their title challenge should be taken seriously, although they'll take finishing in the top four for the first time since 2009. For years, Liverpool were a negative chore under Gerard Houllier and Benitez (despite the trinkets) and few neutrals enjoyed watching them, but that has changed in the past year. While their defending still leaves much to be desired, particularly from set-pieces, their football under Rodgers has been refreshingly electric, with Luis Suarez, Coutinho, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling in wonderful form. Time to make some more history.