JURGEN KLOPP will surely have watched that Steven Gerrard slip with the same morbid fascination as most of us at the time.
One of the great midfielders of his generation — someone who Jose Mourinho twice so nearly bought — stumbles.
To this day it remains a near inexplicable moment. Except that when it comes to what happens between the sides that meet tonight, maybe it is not unusual at all.
For over the last dozen years bad things — strange things — almost always seem to happen.
There have been ghost goals, own goals, horror challenges, slanging matches, even claims of death threats.
Nothing portrays that madness more than the dramatic night back on April 27, 2014.
Chelsea went on to win 2–0 while Liverpool fans had the chilling feeling that everything had just fallen apart.
Those fears would prove to be agonisingly true for the Anfield faithful.
But that night the Special One could not have cared less.
His team had just provided a little more vengeance for him in one of the most bitter conflicts of the Premier League era.
He crowed about how his team were supposed to be the “clowns” of the show but ended up stealing it instead.
And if that victory was going to derail Brendan Rodgers’ bid to become the first manager since 1990 to take Liverpool back to the summit, then so much the better.
It was a moment of destiny at Anfield because it changed so much so quickly.
The side that had provided such scintillating football that even made Rodgers a possible target of Barcelona, became a shell of itself.
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Luis Suarez left for Barca, Gerrard retired never having won a Premier League title. Rodgers, 18 months later, was sacked. Klopp did not imagine back home in Germany that Gerrard’s slip was also a moment of destiny for him.
He was less than a year into a new deal at Borussia Dortmund and had no thoughts off quitting, as he would go on to do a year later.
Tonight he finds himself as Rodgers’ successor, urging his re–modelled side to have the guts to go out and express themselves against a Chelsea team revitalised by Conte.
Sparks are liable to fly. Diego Costa, after all, will be on the pitch.
But then again, sparks always seem to fly — even in pre-season friendlies such as the one this summer in Pasadena.
Blues midfielder Cesc Fabregas flew into a red-card, horror tackle on Ragnar Klavan.
Luckily for the Estonian centre-back no damage was done and Fabregas apologised.
Yet the incident was another example of how crazy things can get between the clubs. It was always a clash of very different clubs. Chelsea are seen by Merseysiders as representing the worst of London self-importance.
Blues fans view Anfield supporters as symbolic of a city enclave that clings to the past rather than embracing the realities of the world.
The disgraceful homophobic taunting of Graeme Le Saux by Robbie Fowler in 1999 added to the history of slurs between the clubs.
This was the constant under- current to matches between the two and the rivalry intensified further when Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho took charge at the Kop and Bridge respectively in 2004.
April 27, 2014
LIVERPOOL need seven points from three games to win title. But Steven Gerrard’s Anfield slip leads to a 2-0 Chelsea win and opens the door for eventual champs Manchester City.
June 24, 2014
KEY man Luis Suarez bites Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini while playing for Uruguay at the World Cup. He is banned from all footballing activity for four months and later leaves for Barcelona for £75million.
January 1, 2015
GERRARD announces he will be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season after being offered a new deal too late.
May 24, 2015
LIVERPOOL complete a poor season in sixth with a 6-1 final-day defeat at Stoke.
October 4, 2015
BRENDAN RODGERS is sacked after a 1-1 draw with Everton, with Liverpool a lowly tenth. Jurgen Klopp is appointed as his successor four days later.
Mourinho still bemoans the “ghost goal” scored by Luis Garcia as the Reds beat Chelsea 1–0 at Anfield to reach the 2005 Champions League final.
William Gallas seemed to have kept the fifth-minute shot from going in.
But it was allowed and Mourinho still says: “I lost a semi- final with a goal that is not a goal.”
That summer, even after Gerrard led Liverpool to the Miracle of Istanbul, he was poised to move to join Mourinho and asked for a transfer.
But he changed his mind amid dark claims that death threats had been made against him and his family.
On January 1 2005, Chelsea won 1-0 at Anfield as they powered to a first title in 50 years. But all the talk later was of how Xabi Alonso suffered a broken leg in a challenge by Frank Lampard.
Mourinho and Benitez had a hate–hate relationship all the way through the ongoing conflicts.
And it was to the Spaniard that Mourinho directed his shushing gesture as Chelsea took the 2005 League Cup final.
He strolled down the touchline with a finger to his lips following the 3–2 win in what was another horror moment for Gerrard. His own goal allowed Chelsea to equalise. The Scouse skipper became a sainted figure among Liverpool fans three months later in Istanbul.
But his standing was somewhat different after the Millennium Stadium collapse.
Some embittered Koppites even ridiculously said that “he would do anything” to get his move to Chelsea done.
Then came another Champions League semi-final in 2007 as Mourinho and Benitez continued to trade insults and Liverpool again triumphed.
Again Mourinho seethed, complaining that only his team had tried to win before losing 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out.
Were Emre Can fit for tonight’s clash he might feel the need to ignore his manager’s orders that Costa should not be wound up into committing a red card offence. Can — along with the now departed Martin Skrtel — was stamped on by Costa during the 2015 League Cup semi-final, which ended in a 1-0 triumph for Chelsea.
That flashpoint brought the controversial Costa a three-game FA ban.
Klopp’s pre-match tone may be exemplary as he tries to keep things from turning ugly between the sides again.
But even on the touchline things are liable to get pretty lively with Conte proving to be just as hyper as the excitable German.