Blues Tame Big Bad Wolves

They huffed and they puffed, but Carlo Ancelotti’s table-topping Chelsea eventually blew down a rather stout house built by a tough Wolverhampton Wanderers side on Saturday.

That’ll do for the fairy tale references, but as far as starts to the season go, the Blues will be pretty happy with the way the script has gone.

Goals in each half from Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou respectively ensured that Manchester City will be no closer than two points behind the defending champions when this weekend goes in the books, whilst a new club record for consecutive home league clean sheets was set.

Since John Carew’s goal for Aston Villa in late March, Petr Cech’s goal has not been breached in the Barclays Premier League. Thirty-eight goals have gone in at the other end in the eight matches since, trumping the previous run set during Jose Mourinho’s tenure.

Jose Bosingwa was handed a first start in over a year as his rehabilitation from a long-term injury nears completion, whilst Didier Drogba was restored to the lineup after missing the trip to Moscow with a fever.

Kalou and Daniel Sturridge took places amongst the substitutes after missing out with minor niggles in recent weeks.

Wolves were missing captain Karl Henry and Chelsea loanee Michael Mancienne, but despite not having won since the opening day they arrived at Stamford Bridge in confident mood.

Much has been made of their ‘aggressive’ approach in recent weeks, but they did their best to dispel that particular media myth and on another day could have found the back of the net.

This one was certainly not the procession of a year ago, when Michael Essien led a 4-0 rout of a struggling outfit. A more mature, more wise top-flight outfit caused problems for Chelsea all afternoon.

The hosts always appeared to be in control, but the fluency of play witnessed at times so far this season was missing for large spells of the match.

A tame header from David Edwards deserved more as Matthew Jarvis looked impressive on the right, whilst at the other end both Chelsea full-backs got forward with interest, and Bosingwa went agonisingly close to scoring only to be denied by a fine Marcus Hahnemann save.

It took until midway through the first half to find the breakthrough, and it came whilst most of the 41,000 strong home crowd were booing the emergence of Stephen Hunt to the touchline to warm up.

Nicolas Anelka played an intelligent ball down the left to release Yury Zhirkov, and the in-form Russian showed awareness and composure to cut the ball back to the wide open Florent Malouda.

The Frenchman tapped into the back of the net from eight yards out to notch his seventh goal in as many league outings.

Further chances fell to Anelka and Nenad Milijas, with supporters fooled on each occasion that the ball had found the back of the net, but the former found the side netting whilst the latter watched his effort cleared from close range.

The second half witnessed more of the same, as Kevin Doyle kept Cech in check whilst quick thinking from Hahnemann caused Drogba to dally on the ball when clear through as another opportunity went to waste.

With time running out, fresh legs were introduced in the form of Kalou and Paulo Ferreira, and the Ivorian needed less than ten minutes to put the game to bed with his sixth goal of the campaign.

Chelsea’s best move of the day saw Didier Drogba and Michael Essien combine to carve out an opening which was confidently dispatched at the near post to secure another three points.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa (Ferreira 78), Ivanovic, Terry (c), Cole; Essien, Mikel, Zhirkov (McEachran 83); Malouda (Kalou 72), Anelka, Drogba
Scorers: Malouda 23, Kalou 81.