Work in progress
As part of our Premier League snap-shots feature, Rob Parrish looks back at Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Liverpool. The visitors are still to spark into life under Brendan Rodgers, while the European champions' impressive start has stalled somewhat on the back of three games without a win.
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp. Last Updated: 11/11/12 8:49pm
Brendan Rodgers' tactical switch helped Liverpool get back on terms
Optimistic Liverpool supporters will hope that their draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge marks a turning point in their season, while Blues fans could fear a further decline from their side.
For all the expensively-assembled attacking talent on display in West London, both goals came from defensive errors at set-pieces, with John Terry's opener cancelled out by Luis Suarez in the second period.
Chelsea captain Terry left the field on a stretcher soon after his goal and will undergo an MRI scan on Monday morning to determine the extent of a knee injury suffered in an accidental clash with Suarez.
Agony for John Terry
Roberto Di Matteo recalled captain Terry to the centre of his defence, partnering the former England international with Branislav Ivanovic as David Luiz missed out through tonsillitis, while Cesar Azpilicueta was selected at right-back.
Brendan Rodgers brought back his big names after they were rested against Anzhi Makhachkala in midweek, although Jamie Carragher kept his place in central defence and Glen Johnson returned to the starting XI following injury.
Di Matteo remains a disciple of the 4-2-3-1 formation which has served the Blues so well this season, with John Obi Mikel and Ramires protecting the back four and allowing the creative talents of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata to provide the ammunition for striker Fernando Torres.
Rodgers opted for a five-man defence with Carragher, Daniel Agger and Andre Wisdom the central three and Johnson and Jose Enrique out wide. Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin and Steven Gerrard were tasked with midfield duties and Luis Suarez was supported up front by teenager Raheem Sterling.
Di Matteo rues missed chances
Di Matteo's first change was forced upon him in the 39th minute when Terry was carried off with what could prove to be a serious knee injury following an accidental collision with Suarez, with Gary Cahill joining the fray, while the introduction of Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge late on had little impact.
Rodgers' solitary change and subsequent tactical switch arguably changed the course of the match as he replaced Nuri Sahin with Suso in the 60th minute and went from 5-3-2 to a four-man backline. The Reds levelled soon after and could have stolen the points only to see Jose Enrique denied by Petr Cech.
Howard Webb remained in control throughout a high-profile contest between two of the Premier League's big names and managed to steer clear of the controversy which has dogged both of these clubs recently. His decision to allow play to continue with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard prone in the area nearly saw Chelsea double their lead and provoked an unhappy reaction from Reds veteran Jamie Carragher.
Rodgers delighted with point
Cahill can expect a lengthy run in the side if initial fears over the severity of Terry's knee injury are confirmed by Monday's MRI scan and it is time for the England international to prove he can be the long-term successor to Blues captain. He partnered Branislav Ivanovic at the heart of the defence, while David Luiz - absent on Sunday due to tonsillitis - provides a further option.
Whatever your opinion of Suarez, it is impossible to deny that the Liverpool striker is integral to the success of Rodgers' side. The Uruguay international spent much of the match involved in a running feud with Ivanovic before demonstrating his worth with a poacher's finish in the 73rd minute after escaping the attentions of Ramires - illegally, according to Di Matteo - in the area.
"Their passing is frequent and accurate, but often lacks the penetration required to break down opponents, with their leveller coming from a set piece and more slack marking." Quotes of the week
Chelsea are facing an anxious wait prior to the MRI scan on Terry's knee which will determine how long their inspirational captain faces on the sidelines. The centre-back's immediate scream of pain and subsequent anguish as he was treated on the field suggests his absence will not be brief. The Blues' early-season momentum has stalled somewhat and they are now three points adrift in the Premier League and far from assured of progress in the UEFA Champions League.
Liverpool remain a work in progress under Rodgers. The manager is eager to spend in the January transfer window, with additional options up front surely a priority. The Reds bossed possession in the first half at Stamford Bridge but barely troubled Cech and went in at the interval a goal down after Agger lost Terry at a corner. Their passing is frequent and accurate, but often lacks the penetration required to break down opponents, with their leveller coming from a set piece and more slack marking.