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Chelsea huff and puff to draw at Anfield

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It is, at the very least, a little telling that despite Chelsea putting in one of their worse performances of the season Liverpool only managed a 1-1 draw against us at Anfield. Which, given that this was the first leg of a Capital One Cup semifinal, is actually fine by me. The Blues didn't put themselves in a big hole or significantly hurt their chances of turning up at Wembley next month, and in the long reckoning this is unlikely to play a major part in the story of our season.

That doesn't mean it wasn't irritating. Chelsea's passing was off all game, which a) gave Liverpool the ball in dangerous situations and b) completely crippled our ability to hit them on the counterattack. Time and again it looked as though the Blues might break out; time and again we managed to completely botch golden opportunities.

The hosts had the ball from the beginning, but thanks to playing what amounted to a striker-less shape had difficulty working out how to turn possession into chances. And, typically, Liverpool were having to play from behind -- in what was essentially Chelsea's first attack of the game, Cesc Fabregas wriggled down the byline, passed to Eden Hazard, and the Belgian was immediately wiped out by Emre Can.

For some reason this is being described as a 'soft penalty' in some quarters.

Hazard brushed himself off and sent compatriot Simon Mignolet the wrong way to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately it wouldn't last, although the 40-minute stretch in which we were playing with the lead was extremely amusing. Liverpool huffed and puffed but didn't really get anywhere, and the match devolved into a serious of silly and niggly fouls which left both sides looking a little foolish.

It might have been different had a pass at the start of the second half been hit slightly less hard. Nemanja Matic, who had an otherwise forgettable game, smashed a ball towards Cesc Fabregas, who got out of the way and allowed Diego Costa to run onto the pass. Unfortunately, Mignolet was also fairly interested in running onto the pass, and got there just ahead of the belligerent forward.

At the hour mark, Liverpool did what they'd been threatening for a while: worked out how to score. The excellent Raheem Sterling, who'd been working Mikel and Matic all evening, wriggled through the two once more, and with Gary Cahill doing an impression of this gif:

Sterling had time and space to shoot. He picked out the bottom corner of the net with Thibaut Courtois helpless.

The equaliser prompted a few minutes of attacking from Chelsea, but the play quickly reverted to type, with Liverpool on top. This time, however, they looked dangerous. Aware that drawing the midfield screen away through Phillippe Coutinho and then attacking the defence directly through pace was causing the Blues problems, Brendan Rodgers' side proceeded to do so over and over again, with the trailing runners particularly threatening.

Steven Gerrard hit the post seven minutes after the goal, but it wasn't just the woodwork that spared Chelsea's blushes. Courtois, who hadn't played since the 5-3 debacle at White Hart Lane, suddenly found himself again, beating away several shots including a stunner from Adam Lallana which looked destined to make it 2-1.

At no time did it ever seem as though Jose Mourinho was trying very hard to win the match. Which actually makes some sense -- a 1-1 draw at Anfield with Liverpool playing well and Chelsea not is just fine, thank you -- but it does lead to not having a great deal to write about. We were poor. We were boring. I think we were meant to be.

This was just the first act, terrible as it was. Let's finish this off next week at Stamford Bridge.

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