MERRY CHRISTMAS, FOOTBALL fans! It’s Sunday and there’s more football to watch.
But don’t worry if you’re stuck in post-Christmas shopping hell or otherwise barred from the TV, we’re here to bring you all the big incidents from the Bridge.
15.27 – Sorry, no time to chat about the weather. Here’s some team news instead.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; D Luiz, Lampard; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Eto’o.
LIverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Sakho, Lucas, Allen, Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho, Suarez
15.37 – We’re mighty excited about this one, folks. Just one point separates the sides and after Manchester City’s win over Palace yesterday, the hosts are four points off the lead.
Oh, and it’s Luis Suarez’ first encounter of big Bran Ivanovic since that wee nibble at Anfield last season.
15.45 – As I blab on and on here in the build-up, Everton’s win this afternoon has pushed them above Liverpool. So, yeah, you could say that the fifth-placed Reds’ title push could do with three-point jolt at Stamford Bridge.
15.58 – Alright, enough talk. The teams are on the field and we’re ready for the off. Where’s the smart money for this one?
16.02 – KICK- OFF: Chelsea get us under way, but it’s the visitors who are first to set up any base to attack. The moves ends with a poor Eto’o tackle on Jordan Henderson and the Cameroon legend gets a yellow card.
16.04 – Coutinho stands over the free-kick and fizzes it in to the near post…
GOAL! Chelsea 0 – 1 Liverpool (Skrtel ‘ 3)
That man Luis Suarez gets a step on his marker and knocks the ball towards the back post, but it’s the big defender who comes onto the chance in his stride and pokes into the empty net.
The perfect start for the Reds.
16.06 – Chelsea go straight down the other end and force Mignolet into a fine save. The ball cannons back off the Belgian’s palms and hits Skrtel on the shin. It’s his lucky day – the ball choosing to spin away from danger.
16.13 – Penalty shout. Eden Hazard goes down as Lucas comes in to make a tackle. The Brazilian doesn’t get the ball, but Howard Webb waves it away.
Soon after, Frank Lampard unleashes a piledriver on Mignolet’s goal, but the ‘keeper has the agility to tip the rasping shot away. Chelsea turning the heat up here.
16.17 – GOAL! Chelsea 1 – 1 Liverpool (Hazard ’17)
It wasn’t without a touch of fortune, but that’s a marvellous Chelsea goal. Hazard started the move in midfield with a one-two with Willian. Oscar popped up 30 yards from goal, but once he attempted to thread on the next pass, Sakho’s block came back perfectly for Hazard to curl a sublime shot into the top corner.
16.20 – Did someone say Christmas cracker? This game has been brilliant. Get yourself to a TV and enjoy the next 70 minutes.
16.25 – Chelsea have eased off the pedal slightly, but the momentum is still most definitely theirs and after Lampard slides in to prevent Lucas taking possession they weave another pretty pattern with Oscar and Willian, but the ball is cut back to David Luiz who hoofs it to the stand.
16.26 – Chance at the other end as Joe Allen finds himself yards from goal, but with a ball fizzed at him it just would not come down off his chest quick enough and Gary Cahill was able to lunge in and clear.
16.28 – Could be a serious blow for Chelsea here as Bran Ivanovic extends his knee and pulls up.
Sky’s touchline man Geoff ‘Shreevsy’ Shreeves notes that JT called for the Serbian to be replaced minutes earlier and the latest slip merely exacerbated the problem.
16.31 – Yep, that’s the end of Ivanovic. He calls the change for himself after battling on, but Ashley Cole is now in the game.
16.35 – That little stuttery period for the Ivanovic treatment has taken some of the wind out of thegame, but Chelsea still look to have an extra gear to go to… and as I type…
GOAL! Chelsea 2 – 1 LIverpool (Eto’o ’34)
It’s Oscar’s lucky day. One again the Brazilian finds the ball bouncing back his way off Sakho and he takes full advantage, pulling the ball back across the front of the six-yard box where Samuel Eto’o is sliding in and shoving Chelsea into the lead.
16.41 – 40 minutes: Liverpool are a little shell-shocked here. The Christmas Day league leaders are fifth and headed for half-time with Chelsea bossing things in midfield and opening up little gaps almost at will in the final third.
16.43 – Luis Suarez alert! Assist aside, it’s been a fairly quiet day in the life of Luis Suarez. He has to scamper to recover a deflected cross, but his cross appears to ricochet back of John Terry’s boot and onto his arm.
Second half, Luis. Second half.
16.45 – Glen Johnson cuts inside and sums up Liverpool’s last 41 minutes with an atrocious attempt at a final ball.Brendan Rodgers looks like a man who can’t wait for half time.
16.48 – The board for three added minutes of the first half is apparently the signal for Chelsea to sink right back onto their own area and protect what they have.
It almost back-fires, but Coutinho’s ball over the top to Johnson is just cut out.
16.49 – HALF TIME: Chelsea 2 – 1 Liverpool.
16.52 – Some people love a half-time shirt swap, and Samuel Eto’o and Mamadou Sakho are two of those people.
17.04 – Right, everyone has their shirts back on and the teams are on the field ready for the second half.
Frank Lampard is one man who won’t feature. John Obi Mikel has replaced the veteran as Mourinho looks set to make this a much less entertaining 45 minutes.
17.07 – Yellow card: John Terry is in the book for a stray arm connecting with Joe Allen as both leapt for a ball in midfield. Seems a touch harsh.
17.12 – OFF THE BAR! Liverpool work a short free to Henderson on the edge of the area and he hangs one up at the back post for Sakho.
The defender deserves a bit of luck, but his header went high and took an age to come back down on top of the posts.
17.13 – MIGNOLET! Eto’o should have been ruled offside, but he’s nipped through one on one with the ‘keeper. With a defender closing in though, he can only smash it at the near post rather than try to test the Belgian across the target. Good stop.
17.17 – SUAREZ! Oof! The Urugayan connects with a Henderson cross and it arrows low, but straight at a relieved Cech.
if you like a cliche, he nearly hit it too well.
17.19 – Joe Allen is the latest to feel the draining effects of this game and the hectic Christmas schedule.
19-year-old Brad Smith will come on to make his Liverpool debut as the Welshman’s replacement.
17.22 – Ooh, a sumptuous ball from Luiz down the channel for Eto’o but the striker’s lack of pace these days is exposed again as Skrtel comes over and slides the ball away before the shot.
From the corner, the big defender once again does well, leaping with Terry to prevent him getting any contact on the cross.
17.24 – It’s getting tense as Suarez feels aggrieved after being bundled over by JT in the box. Not a foul you’ll see many penalties given for.
17.28 – 69 minutes: Those missed chances have just made Chelsea puff their cheeks a little and the again appear to sink back onto their laurels for a few minutes. As a result Liverpool are growing in belief that there is something there for them today.
17.29 – Chelsea do escape their half and win a free-kick, but Luiz sizes up a pile-driver which squirms away for a throw-in.
17.30 – Nice bit of initiative shown from Oscar to dispossess Coutinho and curl a low shot just past Mignolet’s left hand post.
17.34 – Brilliant counter-attack work from Suarez showing his strength and awareness to hold off Luiz and then Cahill to pave the way for a Glen Johnson shot. This time his left foot does not disappoint, but Petr Cech is alive to the near-post danger and gets down to his left to keep the ex-Pensioner out.
17.38 – Suarez comes again, but this time it’s the no-yet-booked Gary Cahill matched up against the danger man and he happily takes the Uruguayan out to give Liverpool a free out on the left wing.
17.40 – Suarez hops up, takes a brilliant free-kick himself , but it flies just over everybody’s head and is punched clear by Cech at the back post.
The little Liverpool hero is limping a little now, but he’ll definitely see out the next 10 minutes plus stoppages.
17.43 – Suarez drives at the defence again, but after running up a blind alley he appeals for a penalty as Eto’o stupidly leaves a boot in as Azpilacueta takes the ball away.
Webb as mere metres away and Suarez was felled in the area. Chelsea are getting the rub of the green today.
17.46 – 86 minutes: Liverpool continue to plug away and their midfield is now well and truly on top, picking off any loose ball going before piling more pressure on the Blues.
Here comes Chelsea’s final substitution: One Fernando Torres in place of Samuel Eto’o who has certainly had an eventful day.
17.50 – TORRES! Sakho stands off the striker allowing him turn in the right corner and run at goal. He makes it within 10 yards, but on his left foot can only produce a dribbling finish straight at Mignolet.
Sakho is replaced immediately, his hamstring pain too much to make him anything but a passenger. Kolo Toure is in the game instead.
17.51 – Superb work from Hazard. With space to run into don the right wing he delays and invites Toure over before checking back on a u-turn and forcing Henderson into conceding a free kick.
We’re two minutes into four added on.
17.53 – SHOCKING TACKLE! Oscar lunges in late on Lucas. Webb initially waves play on but comes back as Lucas reacts angrily to his countryman. Just a yellow card says the ref. Lucky lad.
17.55 – Mourinho is down the touchline revving up the crowd before the final whistle, but it comes and Chelsea move four points clear of the Christmas Day League leaders.
FULL TIME : Chelsea 2 – 1 Liverpool
17.58 – Nice wee moment at the end as Lucas and Oscar share an apologetic Portuguese word on their way off the pitch. It’s Oscar who can afford to be gracious though, he will go into 2014 just two points off the Premier League summit.
18.02 – Right, that’s it for me and the Premier League in 2013. I’m off to look at heatmaps of Luis Suarez movement and charts of Samuel Eto’o's average speed down the years until 6am on January 1.
Until then, safe home.