Wednesday 26 October 2016

Liverpool draw no comfort from stalemate at the Bridge as Gerrard aims dig at Chelsea fans

Mourinho insists Premier League will miss Reds skipper

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard
Jose Mourinho claps Steven Gerrard off the field

Steven Gerrard will not be Liverpool's saviour this season after a 1-1 draw at Premier League champions Chelsea effectively ended the visitors' hopes of a top-four finish.

Liverpool needed to inflict Chelsea's first home loss in the league this season to keep their slim chances of qualifying for the Champions League alive, but the visitors fell behind to John Terry's header after five minutes.

Gerrard, described by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as a "dear enemy" ahead of their final bout, equalised with a header before half-time, but it was not enough for the Reds at Stamford Bridge.

Brendan Rodgers' side are six points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with two games to play and a goal difference of 14 to overcome, meaning they will almost certainly be playing Europa League football next term.

Gerrard plays his final game at Anfield next Saturday against Crystal Palace before leaving for Major League Soccer, while Chelsea's victory tour continues at West Brom next Monday.

Terry's season will finish by lifting the Premier League trophy on May 24, something Gerrard will now never do.

The Blues last season ended Liverpool's hopes of a first championship in 24 years and Gerrard has not been allowed to forget it. Gerrard's slip allowed Demba Ba to score in that fateful fixture at Anfield and he was the subject of plenty of songs on Sunday.

Mourinho subsequently spoke of football's authorities wanting Chelsea to be "the clowns in the circus" on a day which felt like a coronation for Liverpool in a fixture which came in close proximity to the Blues' Champions League semi-final.

Twelve months on and it was Liverpool - unchanged following their win over QPR - who felt like clowns, standing either side of a blue carpet to form a guard of honour.

Terry scored with ease, with Gerrard taking advantage of similarly slack marking in a contest which lacked the usual intensity between these familiar enemies.

Gerrard was replaced 11 minutes from time, with Mourinho leading the applause, which swiftly drowned out the boos, as the match ended level.

Gerrard paid tribute to Mourinho after the game.

The former England captain was on the end of lavish praise from Mourinho earlier this week, and he admitted: "I have huge respect for him. He's the best manager in the world for me and I'd have signed for him a couple of times if I wasn't a Liverpool fan.

"He's the reason why my head was turned on a couple of occasions but he understood why I couldn't do it."

However, Gerrard admitted the point would not be enough for his side in the race for Champions League football.

"Even if we'd won today maybe it wasn't enough, I still fancy United to take some points from their last couple of games," he said.

"This team has to build for next year and we wanted to make a statement and show that with additions and a bit of improvement we can compete next year."

He added: "I think it's important the players get some rest and the owners dig deep to try and help Brendan and the lads out and try and make some additions and improve."

Gerrard added: "The Chelsea fans showed respect for a couple of seconds, but slaughtered me all game. It's nice of them to turn up for once today."

On Gerrard, Mourinho said: "I will miss him yes, I want my league to be always the best league and have the best players.

"I have seen the end of amazing players and I was always hurt by that. Steven is leaving, Frank Lampard is leaving, Carragher, also a fantastic enemy also left last season."

Meanwhile, Rodgers felt Chelsea playmaker Cesc Fabregas should have been sent off in the opening minute yesterday. for a reckless centre-circle lunge on Raheem Sterling.

"It was a poor challenge. Fabregas should've been sent off - out of control, diving, stretching," Rodgers said.

"It was early in the game (but) it doesn't matter if it's early, beginning of the second half, end of the game. It was a bad challenge and he deserved a red card for it."

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