We Are Getting There…

Chelsea stepped up a gear in their preparations for the new season after a much improved second-half performance against Thailand All Stars meant the Blues eventually cruised to a 4-0 win.

The first half display was again of tireless hard work, without much reward, but the introduction of fresh legs on the hour mark made the final thirty minutes look like a stroll in the park.

Another jam-packed stadium was the scene for this pre-season encounter, with crowds filling the Rajamangala Stadium to full capacity on a hot and humid evening in Bangkok.

After using the diamond formation in the second part of the game in Malaysia, it was back to customary 4-3-3 with Fernando Torres as the lone man up top. Petr Cech got his first action on the tour after missing the previous games with a knock.

With the lack of wide players in the squad, once again Nicolas Anelka and Daniel Sturridge were asked to play in wide positions, a fact which just doesn’t do any good to them, and in the long-run to the team as well for that matter.

With Ron Gourlay declaring that two signings are imminent, one must hope that the management is looking in this direction, although with one of them being expected to be Barcelona youngster Oriol Romeu, it wouldn’t be surprising if this position is left out again.

Josh McEachran was deployed in an advanced role with Mikel guarding the back four, and as ever the youngster delivered an impressive performance, further strengthening his case for more regular first-team action.

The game was played in a stop start manner, and with the Thai’s defending in number it was very difficult for the Chelsea forward line to create any proper openings.

Chelsea did have their chances though with Torres dragging his shot wide on the only occasion he got free from being surrounded by a clutch of defenders, and John Terry even put the ball into the net, but the supplier, Anelka, was adjudged offside.

The breakthrough did come before the break though, as Frank Lampard’s measured shot from distance didn’t give the diving Tanganurat any chance. It was the first goal by a Chelsea player since the Wycombe game, with own goal helping us out in the previous two outings.

For a team that has only been assembled a few days before this encounter, the Thai All Stars gave a good account of themselves and put the Chelsea defence under pressure with their counter-attacks every now and then.

With the start of the season coming near, it was time to start giving more playing to players and stop the practice of having a different team for each half.

Only Hilario was introduced for the start of the second half, and what an introduction it was, as the experienced keeper produced a series of stunning saves at the start of the second half, but not before Chelsea put the game beyond the Thai’s.

Two goals in two minutes from Chelsea defenders dented the confidence of the All Stars and cheered the large contingent of Chelsea fans in the stands. The first was a lucky strike after Bosingwa’s attempted cross wasn’t directed properly and was misjudged by the keeper to double the lead.

If the first goal was a mistake, then the second one was pure beauty. A marauding Ivanovic came from the back and exchanged one-two with Josh McEachran, before slotting in a cool finish beyond the keeper to make it comfortable for the Blues.

On the hour mark it was time to give the boys a rest and bring on the fresh legs as eight players were substituted with all the starting players bar Mikel now off the pitch.

Chelsea’s left hand side now had a combination of experienced international players in the shape of Cole, Zhirkov and Malouda, and all three combined well as Malouda put in another goal to make the score line even more impressive. Ashley Cole slid in the through ball for Florent Malouda to thump it in, his second goal of the season.

With the game now comfortable, there was a debut for Jamal Blackman, the tall goalkeeper from Croydon got his first taste of senior football, a moment he will cherish for a long time.

The game must give Villas-Boas some satisfaction as the team finally showed glimpses of getting into their groove, although the tiring Thai All Star players didn’t trouble them much in the later stages.

There may be media condemnation of the fact that none of the strikers seem to look like scoring, but it will come with time as the forwards play more together, although playing strikers in wide areas isn’t helping anyone as was clearly evident from the first half today and in the previous games as well.

Its four clean sheets in four, but there were times when the Chelsea defenders were caught on their heels, but that shouldn’t be that big a issue with team continuing to show improvement with each game.

The continued absence of Alex could be a cause of concern with the nature of injury not yet known.

Chelsea next take part in the Premier League Asia trophy in Hong Kong.

André Villas-Boas was delighted with his team finally breaking their shackles, he said; ‘I said in Malaysia we had a lot of chances and a lot of goals you don’t score and it changes your perspective on how you look at the game,’ the manager reported. ‘Today you score more goals and everything looks more positive.

‘I will keep the same opinion, we had the same behaviours and the same pattern of what we are trying to achieve.

‘It is not that this performance was great compared to the other one, it is just that we scored more goals and it seems that everything is positive.’

Chelsea: Cech (Hilario h-t (Blackman 76)); Bosingwa (Ferreira 61), Ivanovic (Chalobah 76), Terry (c) (Rajkovic 61), Van Aanholt (Cole 61); McEachran (Zhirkov 61), Mikel (Clifford 76), Lampard (Benayoun 61); Anelka (Kalou 61), Torres (Drogba 61), Sturridge (Malouda 61).

Goals: Lampard 37, Bosingwa 49, Ivanovic 51, Malouda 72