Ivanovic and Anelka returned to haunt Blackburn Rovers again as Chelsea returned to winning ways with a rather nervous 2-0 win over Blackburn Rover at Stamford Bridge.
Branislav Ivanovic got his fifth goal of the season to put Chelsea ahead, before Nicloas Anelka made it three goals in two for him to ensure three points for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Given Carlo Ancelotti’s pre-match comments about Josh McEachran being ready to start, the team news came out as a disappointment for some, as fit-again regulars returned to the starting line-up.
Didier Drogba, Ashely Cole, Florent Malouda and Michael Essien all started after having some much needed rest at the weekend.
Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean decided to negate Chelsea’s attacking threat and started with a somewhat 4-5-1 formation, not the best way to end your eight year wait for a win at Stamford Bridge. Their new signing, Roque Santa Cruz, started on the bench for this one as Nikola Kalinic played the lone striker role.
Chelsea came out of the blocks very quickly with the players looking a tad sharper, may be the rest helped or just their improving confidence, as they looked to put early pressure on the Rovers defence.
Ramires went close inside the two minutes when hit the bar with a half volley after a Ivanovic knock-on from the first corner of the game.
Chelsea dominated the possession and huffed and puffed throughout the first half but failed to create clear cut chances considering their domination, although we did hit the woodwork again through Anelka, but not before Hoilett came close to opening the scoring, only to be thwarted by Cech.
The half ended with both sides going in on level terms, but Chelsea were by far the better team, although it can be said that Blackburn’s plan to stifle the home side was going well.
The second half begin with Blackburn introducing Santa Cruz in place of Kalinic, their second substitution of the game, after Dunn was replaced early in the first half by youngster Jason Lowe. As the game progressed in the second half, it bore a similar story to the first, with Blackburn defending deep in their half, challenging Chelsea to break them down.
With Chelsea increasing pressure the deadlock was broken just before the hour mark as Ivanovic put Chelsea ahead. John Terry headed on from a Malouda corner and found Ivanoic on the far post, and the Serbian showed great strength and composure to get the much needed goal.
Chelsea continued to pour forward in search of that second decisive goal which would seal the three points and ease the nerves of the Chelsea faithful.
With fourteen minutes to go that second goal came as Ivanovic turned provider this time, heading from a corner and finding Anelka on the line, which required the faintest of touches from him to put it past Paul Robinson.
With Chelsea two goals ahead and Blackburn looking unlikely to score, a flurry of substitutions followed as Josh McEachran, Saloman Kalou and Daniel Sturridge came on.
This win puts Chelsea back into fourth place for the time being, with Spurs not playing for the next 24 hours. This was Chelsea’s first back-to-back wins in all competitions since October and in a way this was literally a turning of corner. Chelsea have been on a horrible run since that win at Ewood Park and have gone from being five points ahead in the League to being in fifth position.
The draw at Villa showed signs of improvement, but was followed by a depressing defeat at Molineux and now we have shown continued signs of improvement in the Ipswich and Blackburn games which is an encouraging sign.
Didier Drogba also looked like he is close to getting back to his best; he had lots of opportunities but couldn’t get that goal, but if he continues like this the goals will come sooner rather than later. Ramires continued progress is also a good as it shows that he is now slowly adjusting to this league.
If we can continue to keep our players fit and are able to get some addition into the squad then who knows what the future holds.
Carlo Ancelotti was also full of praise for his improving side and hopes that we could build on that now, he said; “I think the difficult moment is gone. We came back to get a good result. It is not easy to close the gap for the first position but we have to try.”
“Our difficult moment was too long but now it is important to look forward and to maintain the atmosphere in our team.”
“The moment was too long and it was not easy to move on but today after the match I can say that we are doing really better. Our future could be really good.”
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Essien (McEachran 79), Lampard, Anelka (Kalou 79), Drogba, Malouda (Sturridge 86).
Goals: Ivanovic 56, Anelka 76.