Chelsea continued their improvement in performances after notching up another win against the high-lying Bolton Wanderers with an impressive 4-0 win at the Reebok Stadium.
The build-up to this game was rather unusual with Bolton fans paying tributes to their Legend, Nat Lofthouse, who sadly passed away this past week.
On the other hand, the rest of the footballing community in England were busy casting their eye on the Sky Sports studios rather than on the team sheets.
The team news was more or less the same as expected. John Terry was declared fit to take his place in the starting line-up, but Frank Lampard remained absent after picking up calf injury in the warm up. John Obi Mikel took his place in the line-up, as he made his own return from injury.
After everyone in the stadium paid their tributes to Nat Lofthouse, the match began, with both teams starting in an aggressive manner. The teams looked up for it, with Chelsea looking sharper, much to the delight of the away fans.
Bolton were hoping that they will be able to pay Nat Lofthouse a fitting tribute with a win and thereby breaking their horrible record against Chelsea at the Reebok, no wins for the home side since 2004 in the League tells the story, but they were taken aback by the a sumptuous Drogba strike on the 10th minute.
Florent Malouda put Gretar Steinsson under pressure and took advantage of his bad first touch to release Drogba, whose strike from 30-35 yards was so full of venom that it gave Jussi Jaaskelainen absolutely no chance and even had the approval of the Bolton bench.
This took the wind out of the Bolton players and forced them to come out more. Still, this was a Chelsea team that wasn’t firing on all cylinders, which meant Bolton still had a chance.
As the half progressed both teams had their chances to score, Anelka had the opportunity to put double Chelsea’s lead after being released brilliantly by Mikel, but he delayed his shot and allowed Knight to make a last ditch block and the chance was gone.
At the other end, Matt Taylor forced Cech, who has never conceded at the Reebok, into a great save from a well-directed header.
As the match approached half-time Chelsea took the wind out of Bolton sails when Florent Malouda scored from a tight angle. Mikel shrugged off Taylor on the edge of the box and found Ivanovic who headed it down to the Frenchmen.
Malouda tried to pass the ball initially but was blocked, luckily though, the ball came back to him, giving him the opportunity to take another bite at the cherry and he did well to score from a tight angle.
Chelsea went into the half-time with a two goal lead; they were the sharper of the two sides and were good value for their two goals.
If Bolton had any thoughts of a comeback, Nicolas Anelka made sure that they won’t be fulfilled.
Malouda and Essien led a fantastic break by Chelsea and combined well on the left. Malouda released Essien who found Didier in the box, his shot was well blocked though, but it felt kindly to Anelka, whose first time shot was handled rather shabbily by Jussi, allowing the Frenchmen to score against his former side. The goalkeeper’s may be view wasn’t perfect, but still he should have done better.
After the goal went in Bolton player’s spirits looked broken and this clearly showed. Chelsea started to dominate even further and displayed some of their flair.
Josh McEachran came on for Obi Mikel on the 70 minute mark; the Nigerian showed what we were missing in his absence with a calm and composed display in front of the defence, the ball to Nicolas Anelka in the first half being the cherry on the top.
Chelsea were now on top and added another goal to round off a great night for the Blues, Ramires getting his first ever goal for the club with a guided finish after some nice work by Essien again on the left hand side, much to the delight of the travelling supporters.
The Brazilian was soon replaced by Kalou though; Carlo giving him an early break for his tireless effort and running throughout the match.
We could have added another goal had it not been for Mr.Foy, he ignored the blatant foul by Paul Robinson on Nicolas Anelka inside the box and waived play on, the appeals from Chelsea players was less vociferous than what it would had been had the score line been close, but the four goal difference made it a little easy to digest.
The Referee had a terrible night, giving Bolton players the leeway to foul, Muamba’s first half antics on Ramires being the perfect example of that.
The match ended with Chelsea players enjoying themselves on the field again and the Reebok wearing a deserted look as most of the Trotter fans decided to leave early after they started the game with much fanfare.
It was a particularly sweet victory for the travelling fans, which were in less than usual numbers, owing to the inconsiderate scheduling by the broadcasters. Despite being a little less on numbers they were in full voice and didn’t forget to remind the Sky duo about their intolerable demeanours as well.
The fact that Chelsea have now got four away matches out of the next five also played its part in this.
This victory also gives Carlo Ancelotti and his men a welcome boost in their flagging title campaign. It was also a welcome return to form for Didier Drogba, who had shown signs of a return to full fitness and form lately, as he looked much sharper and involved.
Carlo Ancelotti, who finally had something to smile about, also now believes that his team are back and it’s now possible to look ahead to being challengers again, rather than concentrating on getting the fourth place, he said; “I think we have turned the corner.”
“We played good football and have come back to play our football. We had a good attitude, a good mentality and the performance was very good. It was an important step and now I think we are coming back to fight for everything.”
“It is not easy to close the gap, but we have to try now we have the possibility. We are playing well, we are in a good condition and we will try to do everything to close the gap.”
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry (c), Cole, Ramires (Kalou 77), Mikel (McEachran 72), Essien, Anelka, Drogba, Malouda.
Goals: Drogba 11, Malouda 41, Anelka 56, Ramires 74.