Liverpool v Chelsea: A modern Premier League rivalry

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The reported bust-up between Jordan Henderson and Diego Costa in the tunnel following Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Anfield on Tuesday exemplified the fiery relationship these two clubs have shared for the past decade.

Costa clashed with Henderson towards the end of the Capital One Cup first leg as well as continuing his fierce battle with Martin Skrtel from Chelsea's 2-1 victory on Merseyside in November.

Not a traditional rivalry

The animosity between players of these two Premier League giants is almost to be expected these days.

Despite not being a traditional rivalry, the constant pairing of Liverpool and Chelsea in cup competitions since the mid noughties has seen an intense competitiveness grow between the two. Next week's second leg will be the 39th meeting since the start of the 2004/2005 season.

This is where this modern Premier League rivalry stems from. Jose Mourinho's first stint as Chelsea manager saw a highly competitive and often bitter relationship with his opposite number, Rafa Benitez, develop.


This is something which spread to the terraces. Liverpool fans regard Chelsea's status among the footballing elite as hollow and undeserved due to the huge amounts of funds pumped into the club by Roman Abramovich.

Equally, Chelsea fans detest what they see as Liverpool living in the past and their constant reference to the glories of times gone past. Both sets of fans see themselves as opposites, north versus south, the old guard against the nouveaux riche.

Mourinho's first trophy was won against the Reds in this very competition, remembered because of Steven Gerrard's own goal and Mourinho's infamous shushing of Liverpool fans.

This was to be just the beginning though. Since that season, Liverpool and Chelsea fixtures have produced a number of thrilling matches, punctuated by moments of controversy.

Luis Garcia's 'ghost goal', as it became to be known, in the Champions League semi-final decider at Anfield is something Mourinho is still bitter about ten years later.

‘Losing a Champions League semi-final to a goal that didn’t cross the line will stay in my mind for ever,’ Mourinho said before Tuesday's game. ‘I cannot forget it. It still hurts, of course it does.’

Titanic battles

This was to be the first of many titanic European battles between the two. Despite Chelsea's far superior form in the league, Liverpool were the thorn in their side in cup competitions. The Reds knocked Chelsea out in the semis of the FA Cup and Champions League in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Again the two faced off in the semi finals of the Champions League in 2008. This time Chelsea were able to break their European voodoo with Liverpool. They dumped the previous years finalists out before repeating the feat the following year in the quarter finals in an epic 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Despite Liverpool's absence from the latter stages of the Champions League since that match, the rivalry has continued to produce controversial moments.

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres' £50m move from Liverpool to Chelsea in January 2011 caused outrage among fans on Merseyside. The capitulation of Torres' career since then and the arrival of Luis Suarez softened the blow. At the time however, Torres, once the darling of the Kop, was viewed as a traitor for joining a team which the fans despised.

Suarez himself would go on to write another controversial chapter between the Reds and the Blues. In April 2013 he bit Branislav Ivanovic, an incident missed by the referee, before scoring a 96th minute equaliser at Anfield. Suarez was subsequently hit with a ten match ban in one of the most controversial moments of the season.

The latest instalment last season is perhaps the most painful for Liverpool fans to remember. Flying high and on course to win their first title in almost 25 years, Liverpool succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Mourinho's Chelsea, following a slip from their captain, Steven Gerrard.

The picture of Gerrard helpless on all fours as Demba Ba raced towards the Liverpool goal, before putting Chelsea in the lead was one of the defining images of last season.

It will certainly be resonating in the mind of Gerrard when he lines out at Stamford Bridge next week. Twice courted by Mourinho in his prime, Gerrard flirted with the Blues before eventually spurning their advances to remain with his boyhood club.

Add to this the subplot of Henderson versus Costa, Mourinho being Rodgers' former mentor and with the score delicately poised at 1-1, Tuesday's game is delicately poised to be another blockbuster instalment in this modern day Premier League rivalry.

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