Tue 08 May 2012 20:00 (Attendance: 40,721)
Hopes of qualification for next season's Champions League via our league position were extinguished by a performance deserving of the scoreline.
It could have been labelled a Cup Final hangover but it was a much-changed side named by Roberto Di Matteo as he continues to negotiate the draining schedule, and although the Blues hit the woodwork before Liverpool opened the scoring, an error-strewn first-half left us trailing 3-0 at the interval. It could have been a greater margin had the home side not wasted a penalty.
Ramires beat Pepe Reina for the second time in four days shortly after the restart but the fledging fightback didn't grow any further and defeat was ensured after a Ross Turnbull mistake led to Liverpool's fourth.
There were eight changes to the side that began the Cup Final. Wembley heroes Petr Cech and Didier Drogba were rested completely from the trip and John Mikel Obi and Raul Meireles were added to the injury list.
Ross Turnbull kept goal, his first Premier League start of the season, and Ryan Bertrand was given another opportunity at left-back. In midfield and attack it was the same selection as the game at Arsenal last month with the exception of Ramires who kept his place. Salomon Kalou had played at the Emirates.
Liverpool added Jamie Carragher to their defence that had played at Wembley with Daniel Agger shuffling across to left-back and Jose Enrique making way. There was no Steven Gerrard - Jonjo Shelvey coming into midfield, and Andy Carroll started alongside Luis Suarez.
Free-kick, after free-kick, after free-kick - that was the story of the opening minutes. One collision left Florent Malouda floored by a knock to the head and he was none too pleased when eventually treated that play had been allowed to continue for quite some time by referee Kevin Friend. It was eventually halted by Paulo Ferreira chopping down Carroll.
The first shot of the evening was dragged comfortably wide by Suarez. Fourteen minutes into the game Ferreira committed his second foul, this time tripping Suarez inside the Liverpool half and he was booked. Soon after Suarez's partner Carroll found himself in possession further up the park and attempted to lob Turnbull but cleared the bar.
At this stage there was little sign of what was to come although Chelsea's first effort wasn't until the 15th minute, a Sturridge shot that was deflected for a corner. Malouda took it with good pace on the delivery and as they had done on the night of his first Chelsea goals on this ground back in 2009, Liverpool left Ivanovic with a free-header. Centrally placed, he should have scored but instead hit the post.
The opening goal came on 18 minutes, Suarez, out wide on the Liverpool left, slipping past the Blues defence and running towards goal before pulling the ball back. The chasing Essien was helpless as it rebounded off him into the net. Despite the Anfield announcer claiming it for the Uruguayan, there was no doubt it was an own-goal.
Terry had just been booked for pulling back Carroll when his unfortunate loss of footing allowed Jordan Henderson to collect a ball forward and have a clear run on goal. The midfielder had enjoyed good fortune but his finish was composed to make it 2-0 on 24 minutes.
Now the Blues were creaking and Liverpool had other attempts before they made it 3-0 just four minutes later, this time a corner doing the damage. It was played long and Carroll nodded back for Agger to head over Essien who was on the line with Turnbull stranded.
The evening nearly got even worse for the Chelsea fans who had made the journey to Anfield as an untypically wayward Terry header allowed Carroll to shoot, but Turnbull saved.
Torres was of course subjected to an evening of jeers but he came within a whisker of scoring at the Kop End with an explosive surge past Agger and shot that smacked against the crossbar. It was by far the best piece of Chelsea play of the half.
When the Blues were given the chance to launch a counter-attack with men to spare soon after, Malouda's decision making was not good.
As the first half was drawing to a close, there was a booking for Essien with Carroll again the fouled player.
The Reds' no.9 was proving a handful again, further emphasised when a cross was played his way inside stoppage time and he tangled with Ivanovic. After a moment's thought, the ref pointed to the spot.
Downing was the player who took the penalty but he doubled his woodwork strikes in this game by hitting the post.
So how would the Blues react to that sub-standard 45 minutes - further collapse or a show of spirit and skill? The initial response was a Chelsea goal just four minutes in after Liverpool conceded a free-kick out wide. Malouda dipped it into the box and it bounced off the front of Ramires with Reina moving forward and in no position to stop it entering the net. The Liverpool keeper is not having his best week.
The home side reacted by having a lot of the ball but without threatening further goals apart from Turnbull pushing away a powerful shot from Skrtel. Their fourth goal was a gift and came on the hour.
Turnbull took a pass from Bertrand but his clearance was low and straight to Shelvey who took the invitation to find an unguarded net from 40 yards out.
Agger was Liverpool's first booked player for a lunge in at Ramires that required treatment. Prior to that Romelu Lukaku had come on for Sturridge and he should have scored with his first touch. The recovered Ramires and Malouda combined for a cross that from five yards out, our young striker headed close enough to Reina for the Spaniard to save. Carroll then missed a good chance too.
Suarez escaped unpunished for a forearm into the face of Ivanovic as he chased the Chelsea defender in possession. It was a clear and painful contact.
It had been a steadier Chelsea after the break, with Terry and Ivanovic improved after their below-par first-half, but Liverpool's movement was good and they were the closer to scoring in the closing stages, substitute Raheem Sterling and Suarez missing when well-placed, Agger heading wide when unmarked, and Turnbull diving to save a Carroll shot. With the game lost, Di Matteo decided to make no use of some of his big name players on the bench.
Consecutive league defeats have sandwiched the sweet success of the FA Cup Final with Blackburn at home to come. That match will now be all about the best preparation for the season's big climax in Germany.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Turnbull; Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry (c), Bertrand; Romeu; Ramires, Essien, Malouda, Sturridge (Lukaku 67); Torres.
Unused subs Hilario, Hutchinson, Cole, Lampard, Mata, Kalou.
Scorer Ramires 49.
Booked Ferreira 14, Terry 21, Essien 43, Ivanovic 45+1.
Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Johnson, Carragher (c), Skrtel, Agger; Downing (Sterling 83), Henderson, Shelvey, Maxi Rodríguez (Kuyt 83); Suarez. Carroll.
Unused subs Doni, Kelly, Coates, Spearing, Bellamy.
Scorers Essien o.g. 18, Henderson 24, Agger 28, Shelvey 60.
Booked Henderson 64, Agger 70.
Referee Kevin Friend.