While during the five seasons that preceded the 2008-09 Premier League campaign it was Chelsea who were among the challengers for the title, winning it twice, this time around it was Liverpool who posed the greatest threat to the Manchester United charge.
So, when they played host to the Blues at Anfield five years ago today, the three points were imperative to maintain the pressure on their rivals from down the M62.
Liverpool's domination continued after the restart, and they were given a further helping hand on the hour mark when Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard was given his marching orders for a stud-high challenge on Alonso. The pair had previous history, which dated back to a tackle in 2005 that left the Liverpool player with a broken ankle.
© Getty Images
Alonso recovered to see a shot deflect onto the crossbar by Alex, while Chelsea's first serious effort on target from Salomon Kalou was comfortably collected by home keeper Pepe Reina 16 minutes from time.
It appeared that the spoils were going to be a shared despite all of Liverpool's pressure, but in the 89th minute they made the breakthrough.
Then, the Spanish striker sealed the outcome in stoppage time following a mistake by Cole. Those were his first two goals of the term at Anfield.
"I'm very happy. We knew before the game that it was a massive game. We needed to keep the three points and stay closer to Man United. We had to keep working until the end and we knew that the goals might come in the last minute. After the sending off of Lampard it was difficult for us because they would have been happy with the draw. We are going to fight [for the title] until the end," Torres told BBC Sport after the match.
The victory moved the Reds to within two points of United, who had a game in hand.
LIVERPOOL: Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio; Kuyt, Alonso, Mascherano (Babel), Riera (Benayoun), Gerrard; Torres (Ngog)
CHELSEA: Cech; Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, A Cole; Ballack, Mikel, Lampard; Kalou (Stoch), Anelka (Drogba), Malouda (Deco)