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Anfield frustrated by the thin blue line . . .

You'll never walk alone.

The Chelsea players celebrate after Willian scores late on to double their lead at Anfield. Picture: PA
The Chelsea players celebrate after Willian scores late on to double their lead at Anfield. Picture: PA

The four words followed Liverpool's players all the way down the tunnel yesterday, an iconic club anthem but one which would be reworked so that it was more in tune with a feeling of regret and apprehension which clung to the home side like a sweaty jersey. They each had an uneasy truth for company too: the home defeat by Chelsea has cut their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League to just two points, with Manchester City still with a game in hand.

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Liverpool's supporters had sought to keep their side together by uniting in a chorus of a familiar Anfield hymn. It is one which Steven Gerrard knows off by heart but he walked off the pitch looking more like a man who would prefer a few moments to himself, the Liverpool captain having been responsible for his side going behind at half-time.

A figure trusted to lead his club towards the league title this season with conviction, Gerrard lost his footing just moments before the break. The prospect of Liverpool extending their advantage further took a rather nasty spill as a result, with Demba Ba gambolling into the penalty area and rolling the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

The Chelsea striker bowed in a moment of prayer as the ball settled in front of a Kop end busy taking the Lord's name in vain. If there is a God then he would appear to have had Chelsea on his coupon.

A statistic would do the rounds at half-time, that the Anfield side had gone on to win in only two of the last 30 league matches in which they trailed at the break. Yet this was not the most significant number, at least in comparison to the scoreline: 1-0 Chelsea.

Gerrard's mistake had given the London side a cushion. They would use it to smother the home side's title chances as Luis Suarez, Mamadou Sakho and Raheem Sterling were all repelled. Daniel Sturridge, a striker of 23 goals this season, was introduced from the bench before the hour mark but was similarly frustrated.

The striker would be forgiven for cursing his side's luck - Joe Allen also went close with a volley, only for Mark Schwarzer to push it past a post - but also the tactics utilised by Jose Mourinho. His gameplan invited plenty of comment afterwards, but few kind words.

"I think there were two buses parked, never mind one," Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, said. "Congratulations to Chelsea as they won the game, although they came for a draw. It is totally opposite to how we want to play.

"It is not difficult to coach, putting 10 players on the edge of the box. It was clear that they'd come certainly not wanting to win the game, with the time-wasting and what-not."

Mourinho had intimated last week that his focus had turned to the second leg of a Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday, when his side play host to Atletico Madrid. He had claimed that he would select a team akin to a second XI, resting some those he will rely on against the leading Spanish side.

There were unfamiliar figures in blue - 20-year-old Tomas Kalas partnered Branislav Ivanovic in central defence - but for the most part Mourinho had sold his audience a pup. It would bear its teeth at Anfield and defended the Chelsea penalty area with a growling tenacity. Not even Suarez find a way around it, the Uruguayan clipping a shot from 25 yards midway through the first half that landed on the roof of the net.

Matches away to Crystal Palace and at home to Newcastle United have still to come into range and it is now imperative that Liverpool shoot both sides down if they are to claim the championship.

It is that which must now come into focus for the leaders, rather than the image of Mourinho beating his chest to salute the visiting supporters as Willian prodded a second goal into the net in the final throes of their match yesterday. "The best team won, in my opinion," said the Chelsea manager.

"Every player was magnificent. No mistakes. I am very happy with my players, they know how pleased I am with their work. The team played brilliantly."

He was perhaps alone in Anfield at thinking that. He might still have a title for company come May.

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