Liverpool v Chelsea – Culture Clash

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Liverpool and Chelsea will go head-to-head in the Premier League this Saturday at Anfield in an early title contender clash. The two teams have been major rivals for the best part of two decades. Being a heated rivalry of the 2000s. But how did they get there? and why are both clubs a shadow of each other’s ideologies and culture? Here is a look back at what made the Liverpool and Chelsea rivalry so special.

Liverpool v Chelsea – Culture Clash

A look back at Liverpool

Throughout English football history, Liverpool has been one of few clubs to hold the title of ”historic”. Winning numerous honours in the 1970s, before dominating the 1980’s, the Scousers were, at the time, the biggest team in England. Kenny Daglish and Ian Rush some of their standout players from that era just to name a few.

By the 1990s, Liverpool’s foothold over the rest of the English football pyramid began to dwindle. Rival’s Manchester United had come into their own after a disappointing decade in the 80s which saw them pick up 4 major honours (Community Shield included), with no league title to show or European success. Compared to Liverpool who picked up 20 major trophies (Community Shield included), in the same period.

Sir Alex Ferguson transformed United in the 90s, winning countless league titles, FA Cups, one League Cup and one Champions League. The latter being part of the infamous treble-winning season of 1999. The arrival of Arsene Wenger to Arsenal also saw Liverpool fall even further behind, with Manchester United and Arsenal going head to head for over a decade.

A look back at Chelsea

London based club Chelsea were the polar opposite of Liverpool throughout each other’s history. Since founded Chelsea was always deemed a ”big club” in terms of the English football landscape. But, never coming close to replicating the type of success that catapulted Liverpool to such heights of success.

Founded in 1905, Chelsea were in the shadow of Arsenal and even Tottenham for a time. With both winning more league titles and domestic honours prior to Chelsea’s first league title in 1955, they didn’t go on to win another title until 2005.

Always in and around the top 10, when the late 80s and 90s came around, Chelsea saw a purple patch of success, which saw them win 6 major honours in that time period. Before 2003, the club had a grand total of 13 honours to their name.

The club had a whole host of talented world-class players at their disposal. The likes of Gianfranco Zola, Gianluca Vialli, Peter Osgood, Ruud Gullit and Marcel Desailly were all major international players at the time Chelsea brought them in.

Liverpool v Chelsea – Culture Clash

The start of a fresh new rivalry

By the summer of 2003, English football changed dramatically. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea for over £140 million pounds and saw a revamp of the club. With his aim to turn a relatively sleeping giant into a superclub. Abramovich’s first game as Chelsea owner was in turn, against Liverpool at Anfield on the opening game of the 2003/04 season.

Prior to this, Abramovich oversaw one of the biggest transfer spending summers in history. Spending over £120 million on 11 high-profile additions. They eventually won 1-2 at Anfield, finishing second behind Invincibles Arsenal.

Mourinho and Benitez – The Ghost Goal

In the summer of 2004, Chelsea appointed Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho. The self-proclaimed ”Special One” came into the club and immediately made Chelsea title contenders. They eventually went on to win their first-ever Premier League title and second English title in their history.

Reaching 95 points and only conceding a mere 15 goals in total, Mourinho made players such as Petr Cech, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and John Terry into Chelsea legends almost immediately.

That season also saw the debut of Spanish manager Rafa Benitez to Liverpool. The Spaniard came in with the aim of bolstering Liverpool into title contenders with a pretty average squad. They finished 5th, 37 points of the league winners.

The two sides did meet each other five times that season, with Chelsea winning 3 of those ties. Beating Liverpool home and away 1-0 in the, before losing 3-2 in the League Cup Final in Cardiff, giving Mourinho his first trophy at the club. The rivalry came to a head when both clubs were drawn against one another in the Champions League semi-final, drawing 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, the second leg saw the infamous Luis Garcia ”ghost goal”.

The ”goal” saw Liverpool progress to the final against AC Milan, which they won in dramatic fashion, but the onslaught from Mourinho and Chelsea was huge. Mourinho stated after the game; “You can say the linesman’s scored. It was a goal coming from the moon or from the Anfield Road stands. The best team lost and didn’t deserve to lose. After they scored only one team played, the other one just defended for the whole game.” 

“They didn’t score in the semi-final – but I accept they beat us.”

The following season, Chelsea won back-to-back titles, defeating Liverpool twice in the league again but losing in the FA Cup semi-final to Liverpool. After the game, Benitez was critical of Chelsea stating; “To me, Arsenal play much better football. They win matches and are exciting to watch. Barcelona and Milan too. They create excitement so how can you say Chelsea are the best team in the world?”

Liverpool v Chelsea – Culture Clash

The Steven Gerrard Saga

The summer of 2005 saw one of the most intense and shocking transfers sagas in recent history. Liverpool captain and legend Steven Gerrard was on the verge of signing for Chelsea. 

Gerrard himself, rejected a new £100,000 a week contract, telling the club he wanted to join Chelsea. A Liverpool club statement wrote on the player’s decision; “Steven has told us he will not accept our offer of an improved and extended contract because he wants to leave”.

After the shock announcement Gerrard went on to say; “This has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make.”

“I fully intended to sign a new contract after the Champions League final, but the events of the past five to six weeks have changed all that.”

During this time, Chelsea’s £32 million bid was accepted by Liverpool. But due to death threats to him and his family and a change of heart, Gerrard decided to stay and any interest from Chelsea was out the window.

Fernando Torres – Chelsea’s Number Nine

By 2011, the rivalry between the two clubs was in its infancy. Liverpool was seen as the historical club, made by working-class people and played and did business the right way in football. While Chelsea, the newly rich powered super club from the west-end of London, dominated by high-end fashion, cars and money were perceived as the villains of English football at the time.

More hated than they were respected, Chelsea didn’t care who they upset, and this was evident in their pursuit of Liverpool striker Fernando Torres.

A Chelsea target back in 2007, ‘El Nino’ joined Liverpool and became one of the world’s best, and had a knack for scoring against Chelsea. By 2010, Torres had declined, mainly due to serious injuries that hampered his performances. Come the 2011 January transfer window Chelsea put in a series of bids to tempt the Spaniard to swap red for blue, it took its time but a £50 million deal was agreed and in doing so, breaking the British transfer record for a player.

Regardless of how the player performed for Chelsea, leaving Liverpool to a hated rival like the London club left a bad taste in the mouths of each and every Liverpool fan who had worshipped the player for 3 years.

Jealousy

That being said, both clubs have a lot to be jealous of with regards to how they operate. Liverpool spent a lot of the time in Chelsea’s shadow since 2003, finishing second twice in 15 years, the rest of those years consisted of poor signings, bad managerial runs, missed opportunities and under-performing. 

Compared that to Chelsea, who in that same time period, have won the Premier League 5 times, finished on average in 3rd position in the league, while being successful in Europe and in domestic competitions.

Many Liverpool fans would admit they have been envious of Chelsea’s rise in English football over the years.

While Chelsea fans would agree they would like to have seen more stability in the dugout like Liverpool had and currently does have.

Liverpool v Chelsea – Culture Clash

Present-day

Both clubs in the present day have enjoyed a continued run of success. Liverpool, under Jurgen Klopp, has revolutionised the club. Winning their first-ever Premier League title and first League title in over 30 years. He also saw his side compete in back-to-back Champions League Finals, winning one in the process, a Super Cup and a Club World Cup has also been achieved under his management.

Chelsea on the other hand recently won their second Champions League title with fellow German manager Thomas Tuchel.

They now enter the new season, as heavy favourites to win their first league title since 2017.

This coming Saturday will see the return of England’s old rivalries. An early title contender’s clash is live on Sky Sports Premier League.

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