…And Breathe

Ask any set of Chelsea fans and they will tell you that past few weeks have been very hard for the club. And after that demoralising defeat at Arsenal just 48 hours ago, it was important that we got all three points over the in-form Bolton Wanderers, thankfully that’s what we got as we returned to winning ways with a 1-0 win.

With only a day’s rest between games it was hard on the players but Carlo Ancelotti made just three changes, with Mikel injury forcing his hand on one. Fit again Anelka returned to the line-up along with Ramires and Jose Bosingwa.

The Blues begin the game in a cautious manner and the nervousness in the crowd was also apparent. Bolton were just one position behind Chelsea when the game started and they were intent on making this an even contest, as they tried to put pressure on Chelsea players at every occasion, going over the top as well sometimes.

For the first part of the match, it looked like the game was going to tell a similar tale again as Chelsea failed to get going as an attacking force and didn’t test the Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. On the other hand Bolton didn’t create any clear cut chances either but did went close with Matt Taylor’s curling effort which went over and into the Matthew Harding stand.

Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies were proving to be quite a handful for the Chelsea defence and constantly forced the players on the back foot, Ivanovic was booked during one of such exchanges, getting his fifth booking of the season, and thereby forcing him out of the Villa game.

Chelsea’s first half display was summed up by the Drogba free-kick which went horribly wrong and into the other wing for a Bolton throw, but still nothing justifies the disgraceful act of booing by some section of the fans, not the way to back your team.

No changes were made by either side at the beginning of the second half, but the change in attitude was all the more apparent from the Chelsea side as they begin the game with a much more positive intent.

The midfielders were now making forward runs and providing more support to the forwards, thereby relieving some of the pressure which the defence was under in the first half.

All the signs of a goal were there, like the beautiful defence splitting pass from Lampard to find Drogba, with the Ivorian only being denied by the post and Jaaskelainen fingertips, and the forward runs of Essien and Ramires, but still the thing which would calm everybody’s nerves was missing.

However, that goal also came soon, as Essien skipped past two Bolton defenders before releasing Drogba, whose squared ball was slammed home by Malouda as the Bolton players appealed for offside in vain. The relief brought by that goal could be clearly seen on everybody’s face.

The goal brought back some of the confidence that was missing for a while, but it wasn’t before some very nervous moments at the end that the win was sealed.

It was the first win for the Blues since the 1-0 win over Fulham in mid-November and brings much needed relief for the under pressure Ancelotti.

It was a win which wasn’t convincing from the beginning to the end but right at the death we saw Chelsea regain some of the confidence and swagger which had gone missing. Cole was making marauding runs and combining with Malouda on the left and the influence of the midfield trio of Lampard, Essien and the impressive Ramires grew as the game went on.

The big test for the team is to now go on a run and show that they have turned the corner starting with Aston Villa on Sunday otherwise this will be just a false dawn.

Carlo Ancelotti believes his team have now stopped from the rot, he said; “We needed to have this victory to move on,”

“It was important to win to forget the bad moment and now we will have more confidence in the future.

“The first half was not good. We were a little bit afraid. We wanted to win and in the second half we played much better.

“We did well on the counter-attack, had a lot of chances and scored, and we controlled the game defensively.”

“Bolton played well, they used a lot of power up front, they were dangerous. Now we have to wait for the next game.

“This is an important step. I’m not sure that everything now will be okay. We have to put on a performance again.”