Raul Meireles, Reds Defeat Fernando Torres, Blues 1-0 at Stamford Bridge

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Raul Meireles, Reds Defeat Fernando Torres, Blues 1-0 at Stamford Bridge

Full time, Liverpool 1-0: Chelsea come forward with their final bursts, and Poulsen clears it out to midfield.

The ball back in results in a whistle against Ivanovic — another call that favored the Reds.

Reina takes his time setting up for the free kick, and he sends it long.

Lucas holds up the goal kick, and then finds Johnson.

Kuyt, Gerrard, and company maintain possession for a spell, but Chelsea eventually gets it back. After a cross in is cut out by Kelly, Lucas kicks it forward and the whistle blows — 1-0 Liverpool. FULL TIME.

90+2′, Liverpool 1-0: Lucas releases Aurelio, but he casually takes it forward and the counter fizzles out.

A cross in for Ivanovic results in a collision. Johnson definitely could have been called for a penalty.

The ball goes for a goal kick — though it touches Agger. Liverpool has enjoyed some good luck in the final minutes.

90′, Liverpool 1-0:

Four minutes of added time

Chelsea continues to hold the ball, and Malouda takes on Kelly down the left. He crosses in long and high, and Ivanovic can do nothing with it beyond the far post.

Reina kicks it long, and Chelsea comes right back, but Malouda and Cole’s 1-2 goes for a Liverpool throw. Eventually, Liverpool clears, and Cech comes all the way out to midfield to send it back forward.

Chelsea continues to test the left side with Malouda and Cole, but after centering, Luiz’s ball is far too heavy and goes for a Reina goal kick.

87′, Liverpool 1-0: Kelly clears the Chelsea attack after Drogba received the ball on the left of the area.

Chelsea comes back, and Lampard tries his luck from way out, but his shot is nowhere near the target.

Aurelio has a chance to counter after Lucas cut Essien out well. He holds up play, and Gerrard eventually kicks it out for a goal kick.

Chelsea comes right back, and a longball into the area is headed by Kalou well high — he was somewhat free.

84′, Liverpool 1-0:

Poulsen on for Meireles.

The corner is cleared by Chelsea, and they again set up their shape in the Liverpool half.

A ball from Cole is flicked past the far post by Drogba for a goal kick. Poulsen gets ready to come on.

Luiz sends a cross in from midfield, but it is too long and goes for a goal kick.

Meireles comes off for Poulsen.

Reina’s goal kick goes out for a Chelsea throw in midfield, and they come forward and set up again.

81′, Liverpool 1-0: Drogba trips Gerrard for a Liverpool kick in their own half. Reina takes his time setting it up and kicks it long. It bounces around midfield and Chelsea is whistled for a foul.

Agger sends the ball deep, but Gerrard controls up the right. Luiz clears, and Chelsea builds from its own half.

Chelsea sets up its shape, and Ivanovic crosses well into the area. It falls to Kalou, and though Lucas clears, he may have handed the ball — in fact, he did — in the area.

On the break, Kuyt finds Aurelio on the left of the area, and he beats the defender and shoots on target, but Cech saves for a corner.

78′, Liverpool 1-0: Gerrard gives Luiz trouble in the Chelsea half, but Terry clears afte the ball is given to Kuyt.

Kalou kicks it at Meireles’ hand, and the handball is given atop the Liverpool final third — slightly to the right. The call was unfair, given the hand was in a natural position.

The set piece is partially cleared, but Chelsea sends another ball in that is cleared by Agger.

The Blues thereafter come forward, and Ivanovic sends a long throw into the box. Johnson clears all the way up, and Kuyt fouls Luiz on the ball forward — though the call was questionable.

75′, Liverpool 1-0:

Aurelio on for Maxi

Chelsea has had some dangerous chances in the recent minutes as the pace has picked up.

Lucas fouls Kalou intentionally in midfield, and receives a yellow for it.

Chelsea, now, are firmly on the front foot, with Liverpool keeping everybody but Kuyt behind the ball.

Kalou, though, is flagged for offside, and Maxi comes off for Aurelio.

72′, Liverpool 1-0:

Malouda on for Mikel

Luiz on for Bosingwa

69′, Liveprool 1-0:

Goal — Meireles 69.

Gerrard makes a run up the right. He crosses in for Kuyt, and Cech comes out of position but the ball bounces to the far post. Meireles finishes with a volle — Goal.

66′, 0-0:

Kalou on for Torres — He hadn’t done much.

Liverpool comes forward again, and Kelly and Meireles combine on the right side, but Chelsea wins a throw, and builds from the back.

Bosingwa makes a run forward and finds Anelka in the middle, but his ball for Drogba is cut out easily.

Chelsea maintains possession in midfield, but again has difficulty advancing.

Eventually, Anelka gets the ball in space above the area and takes a shot low and hard, but he misses the target by a yard or so.

63′, 0-0: Liverpool continues to maintain possession but do little with it. Carragher sends a longball down the right, but to no effect.

Christian Poulsen is warming up.

Kuyt and Kelly combine well down the right, and Kelly sends a good ball in that falls to Johnson. He, though, is cut out.

Chelsea comes forward and after the ball is held up, Bosingwa makes a run and gets a cross in from the right. It , though is partially cleared, and eventually, Liverpool wins a throw off Torres on the right.

60′, 0-0: Liverpool has some space to go forward in the Chelsea half, but Gerrard opts to kick it back to the Liverpool defense.

Johnson does thereafter win a foul on the left side in the final third.

Meireles’ kick to the far post is poor, and Cech collects easily. Liverpool thereafter builds from their own half again.

Gerrard tries to pick Meireles out on a run to the right, but Cech gets there first.

57′, 0-0: Anelka attempts a shot from distance after Rodriguez goes down.

Anelka’s shot is deflected for a corner, and Ivanovic again can’t get the header down on the corner. Chelsea, though, are surely beginning to put the pressure on.

The Blues win a foul in midfield, and they build forward, but a longball for Bosingwa misses for a Liverpool throw.

Liverpool clears and Chelsea again builds from their own half. They are repeatedly rebuffed down the left, but a cross to Essien opens up space. Eventually, Ashley Cole takes a shot wide from above the area.

54′, 0-0: Liverpool builds from the back under pressure, and Drogba’s pressure forces a goal kick.

Liverpool comes forward and Meireles sends a nice ball for Kuyt. It is slightly too heavy and forces him wide, but he gets it to Johnson above the area. Johnson shoots well, but misses the target.

Chelsea makes a dangerous run forward down the left with Lampard the orchestrator. Eventually, Drogba shoots but is blocked for a corner. There was contact in the area as well.

Off the corner to the near post, Liverpool wins a goal kick.

51′, 0-0: Chelsea comes forward down the right with Essien, but he is cut out well by Lucas, and Ivanovic is whistled for a foul in midfield on Kuyt.

The kick is sent across for Kelly, but he loses out for a Chelsea throw. Liverpool wins it off the throw, but a foul is called in Chelsea’s favor.

Essien sends a ball down the right for Drogba, but it is too heavy.

48′, 0-0: Chelsea gives up possession of the kickoff with a longball to Reina, but Liverpool concedes a throw in the their half before winning it right back.

A longball for Drogba is shielded well Carragher, but Drogba still attempts a bicycle kick to no effect.

Liverpool comes up the right with Kuyt and Kelly, and Kelly gets a cross in that is cut out by Terry.

Liverpool keeps possession and builds from the back. After some good possession, Gerrard sends a ball too heavy for Kelly, and it goes for a goal kick.

Half Analysis: The first half can be characterized very succinctly. Play was even. There were few chances. Maxi Rodriguez missed a goal that was nearly impossible to miss.

For Liverpool, the 3-2-4-1 formation — or however you wish to describe what Dalglish’s current setup is — has done well to provide width and clog midfield to prevent Chelsea from getting deep into the Liverpool half easily.

Torres has been relatively absent — with the exception of his near chance that Carragher cut out at the final moment.

For Liverpool, Carragher has been the standout player — masterful in defense and delivering great balls forward.

Meireles has been surprisingly absent, and Rodriguez surprisingly active — though it’s hard to praise him too much given the miss.

Skrtel has done well in defense, though Agger has looked shaky at moments. Lucas and Gerrard have done very well in preventing Chelsea from making dangerous runs through midfield, and Gerrard has been active going forward as well.

Both Kelly and Johnson have done well going forward, and since Chelsea’s width also comes from its defense, they’ve had a relatively easy time at the back. Cole and Bosingwa, though, have gotten the better of them at times.

In the second half, we can expect more of the same. There is probably a goal in the game for one of the sides — though it doesn’t look like there will be more than that. Torres may be subbed relatively soon, and Suarez may come on soon as well.

Half, 0-0: Liverpool wins a throw on the right side in the Chelsea half, and Kelly gets a cross in which Ivanovic and Cech butcher. Cech eventually collects, and there were no Reds around to take advantage, but the defender and keeper yell at eachother over the incident.

The whistle blows thereafter.

44′, 0-0: Liverpool comes forward, and after some nice passing, Johnson gets a cross in from close range on the left. Terry, though, heads it out very well, and Chelsea fully clears and comes forward.

Mikel is fouled by Lucas in a dangerous area — on the left right above the box.

The set piece is a layoff to Lampard, but he loses out and Liverpool has a chance to break.

Rodriguez beats Cole to get behind the defense on the right, but his cross in is poor and is a goal kick.

41′, 0-0: The midfield exchanges continue, with the action featuing a fast pace and tough tackles.

Rodriguez has space in front of the area, and he finds Kuyt on the left. Kuyt lays it for Gerrard, but Ivanovic manages to clear.

The teams trade longballs thereafter, but Liverpool maintains possession.

They lose out as Maxi goes down, and Anelka comes forward with numbers. Skrtel, though, cuts it out as Liverpool does well to get back on defense.

38′, 0-0: Something has been thrown onto the pitch before the corner. Drogba’s corner finds Ivanovic, but his header lacks pace and goes wide.

Liverpool comes forward on the clearance, and Johnson gets a cross in, but Terry heads it out. It’s only partially cleared, and Gerrard gets a cross in from the left as well. Cech, though, wins the ball with ease.

Chelsea comes forward with Anelka and Drogba combining, but Carragher again wins the ball, this time from Drogba.

On the ball forward, Kuyt fouls Terry. Thereafter, the teams exchange in midfield.

35′, 0-0: Liverpool again has numbers forward, and Johnson finds Gerrard deep in the area. Gerrard sends it across goal right to Rodriguez — keeper beaten. Rodriguez manages to kick it off the crossbar — terrible miss, should have scored.

The pace of the game, clearly, is speeding up.

Chelsea controls in midfield, but struggles to penetrate the Liverpool midfield line. Bosingwa finally beats Johnson, but his cross in is cut out for a corner on the right.

32′, 0-0: Gerrard’s corner is partially cleared, then cleared. Lampard looks for Anelka on the break, but Reina comes out and clears the pass.

Liverpool builds from its half under little pressure. Chelsea had been the side in ascent for the past few minutes.

A turnover in midfield by Liverpool leads to a Chelsea break. Drogba finds Torres in a scoring position in the area, but Carragher blocks his shot at the final moment — Carragher has been great thus far.

At the other end, Kuyt finds space and connects with Meireles, who shoots low from distance, but Cech saves easily.

29′, 0-0: Drogba’s set piece to the far post is flicked behind for a corner by Lucas.

Lampard’s corner finds Ivanovic, but his header is wide — dangerous chance.

Chelsea again bring the ball forward, but Agger wins the ball from Essien deep on the Chelsea right.

Gerrard receives a good ball deep on the left from Carragher, and he wins a corner.

26′, 0-0: A longball for Ashley Cole connects, and he sends a cross through the middle, but Skrtel partially clears it. Essien thereafter loses out on the left.

Skrtel goes down, looking to have tweaked himself on the clearance. There was no contact, but Kyrgiakos warms up just in case. Skrtel receives treatment on the side of the pitch, and then returns to the action.

Chelsea and Liverpool trade the ball in midfield as the action is reestablished.

Cech and Reina exchange goal kicks thereafter, and Agger takes it up the left. He loses out to Torres in the process, and Chelsea have a chance to break. It, though, is cut out, but it was a dangerous chance.

Agger fouls Torres thereafter on the right of the area.

21′, 0-0: Liverpool set up their shape in the Liverpool half, but a ball over the top again is too long and goes to Cech.

Chelsea, as usual, build up slowly, but Agger concedes a throw on the right. Drogba finds Torres, but he is cut out well by Lucas.

On the release, Ivanovic fouls Kuyt in midfield.

18′, 0-0: Essien finds Drogba in space in midfield, and Lampard makes a run beside him, but Lampard actually blocks his shot.

Reina kicks it to Skrtel right in front of goal, and Skrtel almost loses possession to Anelka — Reina’s fault.

A ball is sent for Kelly on the right side of the box, but Cole cuts him out.

Chelsea comes forward, again taking their time doing so. A bad ball is given right to Carragher, and he ends a great ball for Kuyt. Kuyt has Meireles in space in the center, but Kuyt’s ball is cut out by Terry for a corner.

The corner is partially cleared, but Liverpool keeps possession — which they squander for a goal kick.

15′, 0-0: Reina sends a ball for a Chelsea throw deep in their half.

After initially losing it, Chelsea release and come forward. They, though, don’t get to the final third, struggling to find space through the five man Liverpool midfield.

The ball forward for Kuyt is flagged for offside.

Lampard has a little space to make a dangerous run down the center, but Carragher stretches to win the ball at the last moment, and Liverpool clears.

12′, 0-0: Chelsea enjoys a spell of possession in the Liverpool half, but can create no danger.

A chance to counter is missed when the ball forward for Kuyt is poor and goes out for a Chelsea throw.

Chelsea again comes forward, but Essien loses out to Agger, and Liverpool comes up the pitch.

Johnson makes a run up the left, but he is closed down upon when he gets to the area.

Chelsea builds slowly its own half without much pressure, and a longball for Torres is flagged for offside.

9′, 0-0: Torres loses out for a Liverpool throw.

Cole cuts out a pass from Kuyt to Kelly — there was space — and Chelsea subsequently wins a series of throws deep on the left.

Cole, though, is called for a foul in that area, and Reina sends it long.

It falls to Kelly, and he looks for Kuyt, but his ball is too high, and it falls to Cech.

The teams trade clearances.

6′, 0-0: Anelka looks for Torres, but Skrtel cuts him out.

Gerrard sends a ball out left for Johnson, and Ivanovic clears for a deep through, but Liverpool can make nothing of it.

Drogba fouls Carragher on a longball forward, and Liverpool  builds from its own side, with Chelsea pressuring.

A Liverpool longball goes for a Chelsea throw, and they build from midfield, before Kelly cuts the ball out and makes a nice give and go run through Gerrard. He looks for Meireles in the center of the area, but his ball is poor.

Chelsea comes forward with Essien, but sends it back to Ivanovic to switch from left to right.

3′, 0-0:

Mikel – Yellow Card – Poor challenge on Gerrard

After a spell of possession on the left flank, Gerrard is fouled late by Mikel — late and a little two-footed.

Mikel is shown a yellow. Meireles’ ball, though, is cleared out of the area easily, and Liverpool has to rebuild from its own side.

Maxi Rodriguez makes a terrible pass in his own half right to Torres. Torres makes a run down the center in space, but shoots well high from above the area.

Kelly makes a throw up the right from midfield, but after some possession by Kuyt, Chelsea possesses the ball and comes forward themselves.

10:45 a.m. ET: Liverpool will again be going with the unconventional lineup with three center backs in addition to Kelly and Johnson in wide positions. Where Meireles and Maxi settle on the pitch remains somewhat unclear.

Jamie Carragher comes back to the lineup for the first time since his November shoulder injury. Luis Suarez will again begin the match on the bench.

Fernando Torres is starting for Chelsea, paired with Didier Drogba up top. Behind them, the Blues will be in a diamond 4-4-2.

Lineups are as follows:

Liverpool:

Pepe Reina (25), goalkeeper
Martin Skrtel (37), defender
Daniel Agger (5), defender
Jamie Carragher (23), defender
Lucas (21), midfielder
Steven Gerrard (8), midfielder
Glen Johnson (2), midfielder
Martin Kelly (34), midfielder
Dirk Kuyt (18), forward
Maxi Rodriguez (17), forward
Raul Meireles (4), forward

Substitutes:

Fabio Aurelio (6)
Christian Poulsen (28)
Sotirios Kyrgiakos (16)
David Ngog (24)
Peter Gulacsi (42)
Luis Suarez (7)
Milan Jovanovic (14)

Chelsea:

Petr Cech (1), goalkeeper
John Terry (26), defender
Branislav Ivanovic (2), defender
Ashley Cole (3), defender
Jose Bosingwa (17), defender
John Mikel Obi (12), midfielder
Frank Lampard (8), midfielder
Nicolas Anelka (39), midfielder
Michael Essien (5), midfielder
Didier Drogba (11), forward
Fernando Torres (9), forward

Substitutes:

Florent Malouda (15)
Paulo Ferreira (19)
Ross Turnbull (21)
Salomon Kalou (21)
David Luiz (4)
Jacopo Sala (55)
Joshua McEachran (46)

7 a.m. ET: There’s no two ways about it. Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge can only be described as the game of the season for Liverpool.

Just six days after selling Fernando Torres to Chelsea for a record £50 million, the Spaniard, who hasn’t exactly had kind words for the Reds since his exit, will make his Blues debut against his former side.

Despite his derisive words for Liverpool, Torres has vowed not to celebrate if he scores against the club that made him a superstar — something Reds defender Martin Skrtel has vowed to prevent him from doing.

Torres aside, the implications of the match couldn’t be greater. Thanks to a Stoke victory over Sunderland, Liverpool can overtake the Black Cats for sixth in the table with a win, and even move within six points of Spurs and Chelsea in the race for the final Champions League spot. A win over Chelsea would also give Liverpool a double over the defending champs, as they beat the Blues 2-0 at Anfield in November.

Torres had both Liverpool goals in that match.

Both squads have been in good form of late, taking 10 points from their last five matches.

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. ET. Lineups will be posted prior to the match.

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