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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
Mike Riley may have cost them the game, but it is Chelsea's under-performing superstars who have cost themselves the title. Even before the ludicrous dismissal of Frank Lampard, the Blues had barely threatened Liverpool's goal and some of their players need to ask themselves some serious questions. They are five points behind Manchester United and a million miles away in terms of quality and desire. They will not win the title like this.

Luis Felipe Scolari is quickly finding that the reality of life at Stamford Bridge bears little resemblance to the brochure he was given in the summer. He has inherited an ageing squad made up predominately of disillusioned players and he has been denied the money to replace them. There is only so much he can do on the training field. What he really needs is the chance to build his own team. Chelsea cannot continue to sustain themselves with what is essentially Jose Mourinho's squad.

One point from five meetings with the big four tells its own story. Chelsea still have the quality to deal with the flotsam and jetsam of the Premier League, but when it comes to the really important games, they can't survive on innate talent alone. Something to ponder in the build-up to the visit of Juventus later this month. The main strength of the Mourinho team was its sheer, unbreakable resolve. They trotted onto every pitch as champions. They knew that they would win because they knew that every player would give his all. They weren't pretty and they were the most devious team since Don Revie's Leeds side of the 1970s, but they were winners. This lot aren't going to win anything unless their attitude improves.

Only John Terry, Frank Lampard, Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole can be exempt from criticism. They have given everything to the cause, fighting for every ball and working hard for each other. Petr Cech, Michael Ballack, Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou have given performances that are hit and miss, riddled with errors, but generally honest. Deco, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba are the worst offenders by some distance.

Deco started the season in superb form, but it was only six weeks before Chelsea fans realised why Barcelona were so keen to let him go. A sublime player, he drifts in and out of games, rarely chasing about in search of the ball. As for Nicolas Anelka, did he actually touch the ball on Sunday? Granted, the service he received wasn't exactly frequent, but you expect much, much more for a player of his calibre. And then there is Didier Drogba, a man who has scored just four league goals since Nov 11, 2007. What does he actually want? I'd love to know because it certainly doesn't look as though he wants to be at Chelsea. He used to be one of the most dangerous strikers in Europe, but now he's barely worthy of a place on the bench.

Until Riley's intervention, Chelsea were unlikely to lose to Liverpool, but they were never going to beat them. With the exception of a small core of players, they are not performing anywhere near their potential. Those abject millionaires can blame the referee if they like and, if they're really shamless, they can try and blame their manager. But if they want to discover the true identity of the culprits, it's easy. They just need to take a look in the nearest mirror.

SHOCKER - What was Steven Gerrard thinking of when he needlessly blasted the ball at Jose Bosingwa's groin from a distance of about two feet? Wasn't Rory Delap sent off for that on Saturday? Bosingwa survived the impact, but there may not be any little Bosingwas for a few years, if you take my meaning.

SHOCKER No.2 - What was Jose Bosingwa thinking of when he laid his studs on Yossi Benayoun's backside and booted him off the pitch? The linesman was stood right next to him, but somehow Bosingwa stayed on the pitch. Granted, he was probably in a bad mood after taking a Gerrard thunderbolt between the legs, but even so, this was a disgraceful foul.

CLUELESS - From start to finish, Mike Riley's whistle drained the life out of this game. Congested and lifeless, it didn't need to broken up every thirty seconds and it certainly didn't need so many bookings. The decision to send off Frank Lampard was beneath contempt, especially as Steven Gerrard launched into an even more reckless tackle moments before. He just got a telling-off.

PUNTERS RANT - I was convinced that this game would end in a draw and I saw nothing to convince me otherwise until Riley stepped up a gear. This was an abject game between one team that was never going to win and another that was too scared to chase it properly unless they lost. This is not what football is supposed to be about.

MAN OF THE MATCH - In a game this poor, I'm almost tempted to leave this blank, but for his two late goals, I suppose it should go to Fernando Torres. It wasn't his fault that he had no support for the preceding 88 minutes, and he proved that his finishing is still impeccable even after all those injuries.

Crowd - 44,170
Yellow Cards - Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard, Arbeloa (Liverpool), Mikel, Cole, Terry (Chelsea)
Red Cards - Lampard (Cheslea)
Liverpool -
Pepe Reina 7, Alvaro Arbeloa 7, Jamie Carragher 7, Martin Skrtel 7, Fabio Aurelio 7, Xabi Alonso 7, Javier Mascherano 7 (Ryan Babel 6, 83rd), Dirk Kuyt 6, Steven Gerrard 7, Albert Reira 7 (Yossi Benayoun 6, 74th), Fernando Torres 8 (David N'Gog, 90th)
Chelsea -
Petr Cech 6, Jose Bosingwa 6, Ashley Cole 6, John Terry 7, Alex 7, John Obi Mikel 6, Michael Ballack 6, Frank Lampard 6, Salomon Kalou 6 (Miroslav Stoch 6, 85th), Florent Malouda 6 (Deco 6, 69th), Nicolas Anelka 5 (Didier Drogba 6, 69th)