Road To Wembley Starts In Emphatic Style

Well, I think we can all agree that that was needed.

As Chelsea embarked on another FA Cup campaign, seeking to become the first side in 125 years to win three on the trot, the feeling around the club could have been better.

Another defeat in midweek against Wolves followed by ‘Bannergate’ brought more doom-mongering to the club’s doorstep, something which received only a brief respite when Ipswich sacked manager Roy Keane on the eve of the tie.

So, a 7-0 win proved to be just the tonic to blow away some of the bad feeling and instill a little bit of optimism for the games and weeks ahead.

A brace apiece from Frank Lampard and Daniel Sturridge led the way, with Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou each grabbing one, and Carlos Edwards’ unfortunate own goal the other name on the scoresheet.

Carlo Ancelotti made four changes from the debacle at Molineux, with Patrick van Aanholt, Josh McEachran, Anelka and Sturridge replacing Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba respectively.

All except Cole took their places on the bench, but each apart from Malouda had suffered knocks in the build-up to the match, and so were afforded the chance to recuperate.

Ipswich – under the caretaker stewardship of Ian McParland – suffered from the loss of players to injury and loan ineligibility and so were forced to shuffle their pack, handing a start to highly rated teenage striker Connor Wickham.

To their credit, they started well, and gave a travelling contingent of 3,000 reason to believe an upset was on the cards. They battled well, competed in every phase of play and tested Petr Cech in the home goal with an effort from Jason Scotland which swerved wildly in the air, requiring a top save from the Czech.

Chelsea’s number one was to be involved in a nasty collision with Wickham midway through the first half which left him in some discomfort, but he was able to recover and play on, much to the delight of a worried Stamford Bridge faithful.

After half-chances had fallen to Sturridge (on a number of occasions) and McEachran, and after Anelka had seen his goal-bound effort cleared by former Fulham scholar Troy Brown, the breakthrough arrived shortly after the half-hour mark.

Anelka was keenly involved again, as he picked up the ball on the edge of the area before shooting. Fulop was able to make the save but as the ball rolled towards the back of the net, Kalou made sure from no more than an inch away.

Before the supporters had time to catch their breath, the lead had been doubled. A swift flowing move saw Josw Bosingwa deliver a cross from the right, which was delicately flicked in at the near post by Sturridge.

The 21 year-old has made something of a habit of scoring in the FA Cup and after grabbing five goals in a midweek friendly against Tottenham, he once again displayed the knack he clearly has for finding the back of the net.

A third goal would arrive shortly before the break, as Lampard delivered a free-kick into a dangerous area, and Carlos Edwards flicked it beyond his own goalkeeper to compound Ipswich’s problems further.

For the hosts, however, the prospect of a pressure-free second half with the opportunity to play with confidence must have been an appealing one, and with a team full of energy and verve, they wasted no time after the restart.

Again it was Anelka involved, playing much higher up the pitch, and he added his name to the list of goalscorers after a quick one-two with Kalou before confidently dispatching the ball into the far corner from a tight angle.

Minutes later, the rout was well and truly on as Sturridge grabbed his second of the afternoon. Receiving the ball in space to the left side of the penalty spot, he took a touch to set himself before curling a beauty with his right foot into Fulop’s top corner.

The Hungarian stopper had conceded seven on his last visit here for Sunderland during the 2009-10 season and was faring little better this time around.

Taking their foot off the gas with the game firmly in the bag, Gael Kakuta entered the match in relief of Kalou, whilst Jeffrey Bruma replaced compatriot van Aanholt, who suffered an injury.

Even at a gear or two below their best, you sensed Chelsea still had the capacity to score at will, and in the closing stages added considerable gloss to the scoreline.

Kakuta’s corner was poor, but the near-post clearance was poorer, finding Lampard on the edge of the area. He was afforded time and space to get a shot off, and Fulop was rooted to the spot as the ball crashed into the back of the net.

For the second time in the match, the Blues would grab two goals in the space of a minute, as Lampard doubled his official tally for the day. Neat approach work involving Kakuta and McEachran released Ivanovic inside the box, and he squared for the easy finish from close range.

Kakuta might well have made it eight, but he was denied a first career goal by a rare save from Fulop.

Instead, Chelsea settled for seven, the sixth such time they have scored at least that number in the last twelve months. Perspective must be kept with regards to the opponent and the circumstances, but there were many positives to take from the match.

Subtle team changes allowed fresher, perhaps more confident players to come into the side and it manifested itself in a display which was of high tempo, tenacity and creativity.

Anelka looked much more effective playing further up the pitch, often in the middle, whilst Sturridge once again showed he is at his most effective inside the box and not stuck out on the wings.

Ramires had another very industrious and effective game in the middle of the park as he grows into quite the contributor, and both McEachran and van Aanholt can be pleased with positive displays as well.

The Fourth Round draw brings a trip to Everton. Que sera sera….?

Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry (c), van Aanholt (Bruma 70); McEachran, Ramires, Lampard; Kalou (Kakuta 55), Anelka, Sturridge
Subs Not Used: Hilário, Drogba, Essien, Malouda, Ferreira

Goals: Kalou 32, Sturridge 33, 52, Edwards 41 og, Anelka 49, Lampard 78, 79

Comments are closed.