Grades (+ Funny Pictures!) @ Chelsea

I've always thought football player grades are pretty dumb. An anonymous person gives an arbitrary rating on an arbitrary scale with no real points of reference, and it looks like some method of quantification when it really isn't. So, er, yeah, here are my grades! Scale 2 to 8 because that's how it is on PES. 

Reina - 7: Kenny Dalglish's multitudinous back line coupled with Chelsea's (Torres induced) narrow form meant few direct challenges on goal for the home side. As @OptaJoe tweeted after the game, Chelsea's 1 shot on target was their fewest since February 2008 (also against Liverpool). In any case, Reina put in a strong performance behind Skrtel, Agger, and Carragher.

He was in position for the three most serious Chelsea challenges- when Carragher blocked Torres' shot, Reina made sure Torres would need to chip to score. On Anelka's blast at 64', Reina had his near post fully covered. Similarly, Essien's left footed strike on 66' was covered as well. Finally, Reina's punch clearance in the final minutes was an underrated contribution.

Skrtel - 6: Skrtel's biggest piece of defending came in the form of a clearance of Ashley Cole's cross at 21'. He injured himself whilst contorting, but stayed on and played well anyway.

Agger - 6.5: Agger gets an extra half point for his vicious elbow to the nose of Fernando Torres. His ability to get forward and keep possession through midfield is a pretty valuable asset to have in the 3-6-1 shape. Agger also dealt well with Ivanovic, who Ancelotti likes to feature on the receiving end of set pieces. Ivanovic did get his head to multiple crosses but was largely kept off balance while making contact.

Carragher - 8: Just an outstanding performance. Carra played primarily as the right handed side of the back 3, but he took on threats as they emerged across the box. His tackle on Torres is obviously what stands out, but he really did play a consistent 90 minutes outside of that. 

More than anything, I think the 3-6-1 suits him rather well. Carra's primary weakness is tracking backwards quickly against pacy wingers. When the pace of the ball slows near the box, as it did today due to our shape, he excels. As strong as the rest of our defense was, Drogba or Torres probably would have stood good chances of scoring today if it wasn't for Carragher.

Kelly - 6: Kelly played the ball into the right channel that freed Gerrard and allowed him to cross to Meireles' winning goal. Obviously, Chelsea' lack of width meant Kelly wasn't tested tracking back too frequently, but he still broke up his fair share of narrower build ups.

Johnson - 5.5: The Johnson-Bosingwa matchup was one of the most intriguing on the pitch. Johnson's crosses and play around the box weren't great though he did have some clever touches. But Bosingwa also did a job on him when in possession, and seeing Luiz come on was something of a relief.

Lucas - 7: Lucas was responsible for tracking Anelka in his trequartista (hahaha) role. In related news, Anelka played rather poorly. It was another one of those 'invisible but effective' games for Lucas. I found his offensive game pretty mediocre (inefficient distribution, nothing particularly incisive) but he still made a solid overall impact.

Gerrard - 7: As the commentators mentioned, Stevie G gave the ball away very often today. Aside from that, he played well defensively (falling deeper alongside Lucas) and he quite brilliantly set up two goals. Er, goal. Yeah. About that.

Meireles - 7: 4 goals from 5 games? It's interesting how Roy Hodgson's best (or "only decent" if you're not feeling so generous) signing is excelling under Kenny. Meireles actually wasn't heavily involved in the attack until the 69th minute. Of course, that moment should rightly overshadow everything else. Meireles smartly made the follow up run and was rewarded. 

On a related note, how hilarious was Cech's error on that goal, given his chewing out of Ivanovic for his attempted clearance at the end of the first half? The answer is "very hilarious."

Maxi - 4: Bungled the goal (if we're being fair, it was an awkward bounce but still), passed directly to Torres to open the game, and failed to put in useful crosses from two good areas out wide. I've been a Maxi fan since the time he hit that ridiculous goal against Mexico, but he was decidedly off his game today.

Kuyt - 6.5: As Suarez and Carroll near match fitness, the eternal Kuyt debate is sure to rage again. Is his work rate worth his lack of technical ability? I don't know, but the dichotomy was pretty obvious in this game. His close outs on Cech and other Chelsea defenders (notably Terry) were great, and his run through the box essentially created the goal chance for Meireles. But Chelsea never seemed particularly worried by Kuyt on the ball either. I've always been a huge Kuyt fan, but see the arguments on the other side for sure.

And now, to reward you for sitting through a wall of boring text...






I wish Fernando the best in the future and hate to see players get hurt.. but yeah! Right on, Danny!

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