EPL Super Six: Blues show big-game temperament


The performance wasn't pretty but it was as effective as Jose Mourinho wanted it to be.

Despite this game being sandwiched between two Champions League semi-final matches, Chelsea somehow mustered the energy and resistance to grind out a 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

It hauled them back into title contention and it also seemed to have derailed the Reds' trophy hopes.

Mourinho's blueprint for success was no different from the stifling strategy they employed to get a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon last week.

Often with six, seven men in their deepest line, they repelled whatever Liverpool could throw at them.

Special attention was given to star striker Luis Suarez.

Two defenders were always in position to guard each flank to limit the damage Liverpool's overlapping fullbacks could do.

Demba Ba got the first goal after a mistake by Steven Gerrard left him with only the goalkeeper to beat.

The second, by Willian in the dying seconds of the match, was classic smash-and-grab stuff.

The visitors displayed very little ambition, but plenty of pluck.

When combined, it turned into a very potent mix.

Kudos to Chelsea for pulling this out of the hat, something which not many foresaw.

It reminds you of how good Mourinho is in the big games.

He wasn't lucky.

In 10 matches against the Super Six teams, Mourinho has won seven and drawn three.

25.9 - Possession wins you nothing, and Chelsea showed that by taking all three points despite a possession rate of only 25.9 per cent.

54 - The Blues made a total of 54 clearances, way more than Liverpool's 22.

153 - Chelsea's total of 153 completed passes is 3.5 times fewer than Liverpool's 536.



Solid as usual, and too stubborn to yield an inch.

He was deployed outside of his usual fullback position to play in the centre alongside the inexperienced Tomas Kalas.

But Ivanovic turned in a great performance which personified the tenacity of this Chelsea team.

He was a rock at the back and, even on the rare occasions when he was beaten, there was the reliable Mark Schwarzer in goal to thwart the Reds.

11 - The defender made 11 clearances, more than any other player on the pitch.

34 - Along with goalkeeper Petr Cech, Ivanovic has clocked 34 Premiership starts this season - the most in the Chelsea team.



Manchester United moved into a new era with a performance befitting the occasion.

The tentative first-half display suggested that caretaker manager Ryan Giggs isn't ready to take over the side on a long-term basis.

But he managed what David Moyes never could do: Getting the players to enjoy themselves.

He certainly got the best out of Juan Mata.

Coming on as a 60th-minute substitute, Mata took only three minutes to get on the scoresheet and another later on as United ran rampant.

3 - Mata came on with 30 minutes remaining, made three goal attempts - all of which were on target - and scored twice. That's class.

1 - Of the 26 passes he made, only one didn't find a teammate.


This article was published on April 29 in The New Paper.

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