Chelsea Receives Guard of Honor as Champions
Following an awkward guard of honor before kickoff where Liverpool players, along with the Stamford Bridge faithful, applauded Chelsea as the new Premier League champions at the outset of the game, the Blues were held to a 1-1 draw against rivals Liverpool.
Captain John Terry headed Chelsea in front in the fifth minute – becoming the top scoring defender in Premier League history – but throughout the rest of the game, the likes of Branislav Ivanovic, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas looked disinterested and tired. The young Ruben Loftus-Cheek received a surprise start, instead of the normal stalwart Nemanja Matic, and coped well with the pace and physicality of the game.
Just before the halftime whistle, Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard levelled the score from a header off a set piece which sparked the visitors. Although Liverpool had more shots, shots on goal, possession and even displayed a spirited last stand towards the end of the game, the second half was not played at the same pace as the first.
Raheem Sterling, who has struggled since his contract situation went public at the beginning of April, once again put together a mediocre shift with poor touches, dramatics and the inability to properly strike a ball (this shouldn’t be a total shock as fans should remember that defenseman Dejan Lovren was chosen to take and subsequently miss a decisive penalty kick in the team’s Europa League loss against Besiktas instead of the highly touted youngster). Sterling did set up teammate Philippe Coutinho in the 49th minute which should have brought a goal, but Coutinho missed the target.
But after Liverpool started to grow in the game, Mourinho brought on Matic to replace Loftus-Cheek on the hour mark, which immediately restored control of the midfield away from Liverpool.
The result meant nothing for title winners Chelsea, but the draw more or less ends Liverpool's shot at a top four finish and Champions League birth. Liverpool sit six points behind fourth place Manchester United with two games left to play for each club. The only chance Liverpool has to make it into next year’s most competitive club competition is to hope for two United losses and themselves achieve two wins.