Frank Lampard stole the show in his 350th league appearance for Chelsea at the Reebok Stadium, scoring a hat-trick and putting in a performance that will have more than answered his critics in the media.
The team lined up with Cech in goal, Luiz and Terry in the centre of defence with Cole and Bosingwa on the left and right respectively.
In mid-field, Villas-Boas opted to start with Ramires on the right hand side, Meireles in the middle and Lampard in his favoured position on the left of a middle three.
Drogba replaced the suspended Fernando Torres in the central striking berth with Mata to his left and Sturridge returning after injury to the right hand side.
The match got off to the best possible start when David Luiz picked up the ball in his own half and played Bosingwa down the right flank, the Portuguese crossed the ball in low and it was cleared for a corner. Mata put the ball in with pace and no-one in the Bolton defence picked up on the movement of Sturridge who headed home from five yards at the near post to make it 1-0 in 90 seconds.
The second goal came just 14 minutes later and it was via a lovely passage of football. Lampard was involved in the build-up and played the ball forward via Ramires, who passed to Mata who then played the ball to Sturridge, who in turn squared it back for Lampard to slot home from 12 yards. 2-0 Chelsea and only 15 mins on the clock.
Pre match predictions from many of a goal glut were looking increasingly likely, and it wasn’t long before Chelsea added the third. Another low ball from the back by Luiz found Sturridge wide right of the Bolton area, the striker cut back inside and unleashed a left footed shot that the Bolton keeper could only deflect high into the net. Sturridge’s second goal, and Chelsea’s third.
Just two minutes later Lampard added his second of the afternoon, David Luiz had stormed from the back and with no-one closing him down he kept on running and hammered as shot at the Bolton goal, with the keeper only able to parry it the familiar figure of Lampard was closing late into the box and slotted home to make it 4-0 in less than half an hour.
With the match almost a foregone conculsion at this point, Bolton’s heads dropped and Chelsea eased off the gas a little for the remaining 15 mins of the half, although did have a few more opportunities to add to the tally with Mata going closest but seeing his shot saved.
Bolton brought on Zat Knight during half time in order to try and close things up at the back yet it was at the other end that Bolton made an impression. An early free kick was sent into the box by Petrov and Boyata evaded everyone to plant his header past Cech to make it 4-1. The free kick was eerily similar to that conceded against United, and again showed our weaknesses at set plays.
Villas-Boas responded after ten minutes of seeing Bolton with their tales up following their goal, and a probable stern word or two from their manager at half time, introducing Ivanovic for Bosingwa and brining on Mikel for Ramires. The Nigerian slipped into the holding role moving Meireles to the right, leaving Lampard on the left.
Frank then became the fifth highest league goalscorer in the clubs history in the 58th minute after combining well with Didier Drogba in the box, for the big Ivorian to pull the ball back to the penalty spot for the advancing Lampard to slot the ball home first time to complete his hat-trick and make it 5-1.
Bolton continued to improve on their first half performance, looking dangerous at times however Chelsea were able to clear the danger the majority of the time, with JT and Luiz making some vital tackles and interceptions. There was however a contentious issue later on when a Davies shot was cleared on the line by Ivanovic, however replays looked to show that the ball had crossed the line.
In the end it wasn’t relevant, and for once the talk won’t be able a poor refereeing decision, it’ll be about one man; Frank Lampard. So often criticised in recent weeks as being ‘finished’, today he proved that was nonsense.
If this is what rest and rotation does for the man, then long may it continue.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa (Ivanovic 53), D Luiz, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires (Mikel 55), Meireles, Lampard; Sturridge, Drogba, Mata (Anelka 72).
Goals: Sturridge 1, 24, Lampard 14, 26, 58.