There you go then, that’s probably pretty much it. Barring any absolute madness on the parts of both Liverpool and Manchester United (ie; us winning our next two games by four goals apiece, them losing theirs by the same) that’s the season pretty much over bar the shouting.
It’s certainly Steven Gerrard’s last appearance in a major game for Liverpool. Sealed with a headed goal that equalised John Terry’s earlier headed opener, both goals from set pieces, neither team threatening much from open play.
Chelsea started well, looked determined to celebrate their title party with a win, didn’t seem to have hit the beach just yet, looked capable of cutting through us in the first-half and then incapable of dealing with us in a reinvigorated second-half after a change of shape that confused Gary Neville - Emre Can has been moving into midfield from right back for weeks, you’re supposed to know this Gary, it’s kind of your job.
The pluses were the usual pluses, the weaknesses equally usual. Creativity and fluidity from Coutinho, Sterling and Lallana in the approach to the area, no final ball, nobody to finish. Lambert was ineffectual as he has been most of the season, Balotelli and Borini missing, sat at home somewhere, Jerome Sinclair chosen ahead of them. Welcome to next season.
A point against Chelsea would be an admirable result most weeks and was evidence of a decent performance this time round, but in reality just wasn’t quite enough. The West Brom draw, the Hull loss, both look ridiculously costly now. A post match interview with Rodgers was proof of this; he could talk about the ovation that Gerrard received on leaving the field, could talk about how ‘outstanding’ we’d been, be quizzed about how the loss of Suarez and the Sturridge injury had affected us, could play Sinclair and Ibe and look like a man who’s preparing the future but his eyes say something else.
He looks destroyed, looks tired, looks beaten. He knew the win was necessary, knew that we didn’t have it, knew the season had finished, knew that De Gea and Fellaini had pulled United into a stronger position than they deserved against Palace and all there was to play for in the last two games was the joy of Thursday nights in Eastern Europe.
Steven Gerrard said in his interview that the owners will have to dig deep to help Brendan next season. The owners will have to decide if he’s there next season first. Then somebody is going to have to figure out how you replace a figurehead. Who comes in to take the place of a legend?
He also greeted the Chelsea ovation with a degree of cynicism; pointed out that 30 seconds of ovation doesn’t make up for an hour of singing about how ‘he fell on his f***in’ arse’ and that he was more concerned about the ovation from the Liverpool fans. Which is how the world should be. We’ll miss him. One of us. Always one of us.
Oh. By the way. Chelsea fans? Nice use of the laminator there lads, real innovation in the modern game. Don’t bother celebrating the fact that you’ve won the league, make some ‘slipping hazard’ laminates instead. Stay classy and all that.
And all that reads pretty miserably considering that we were actually good at Stamford Bridge. We moved well, we probed well, we passed. We were as good as Chelsea. we can be as good as Chelsea, we’ve proved that in three of the four games that we’ve played against them this season. We just can’t do it across 38 games.
A Sturridge up front, a fit, fully firing Sturridge and we win today’s game, we win far more games than we have. The lack of a plan B loses you games though, loses you jobs.
Two games left, can’t rely on miracles. Next Saturday is for saying goodbye to Steven, the Sunday after for closing out the year and aiming for finishing no lower than fifth.
After that? An interesting summer awaits.