A win, a clean sheet and three points in the bag, this sounds like the perfect recipe for a Saturday afternoon for this Chelsea team who have had a horrendous time off late, and this is what we got as Chelsea cruised to a 3-0 win over a below-par Wolves team.
There was a first start for Oriol Romeu as Frank Lampard was rested, while the rest of the team picked itself with Florent Malouda making way for the ever-impressive Daniel Sturridge.
Chelsea have been on a terrible run of form over the past month, winning just two out of seven games which has seen them slip to fifth spot in the league, but then the opponents, Wolves, were in even worse position; winning just one league game in over three months.
So, a game which would have been a home banker had the potential to be a much more even contest, but from the first minute of the game it was clear that it wasn’t to be.
Chelsea started the match brightly and was on the attack from the kick-off.
Raul Meireles was there in all the Chelsea attacks at the beginning, making the trademark Frank Lampard forward runs, and could have opened the scoring inside the first few minutes but failed to hit the target, first with a weakly hit shot from distance, and then missed his kick from a Branislav Ivanovic cutback.
There was no relief for Wolves as Ramires then stole the ball away from Nenad Milijas and broke with venom, with Didier Drogba giving him a supporting role and taking defenders away, and released a low powerful drive which was brilliantly saved by Wayne Hennessey.
From the resultant Juan Mata corner, John Terry beat his marker, Roger Johnson, to head it in; albeit a deflection of their big-money summer signing to put Chelsea ahead inside the first 10 minutes.
It took more than 22 minutes for Wolves to muster their first chance of the night when good work down the left created an opening for Ward, but with the Ireland International so far out, he couldn’t direct his header and it failed to trouble Cech in goal.
Chelsea enjoyed lots of room and were rarely put under any sort of pressure, and in particular the Wolves full-backs, without any support, struggled throughout the first half, therein giving the Chelsea full-backs an easy route to move forward and deciding our way of attack.
This weakness was again exposed when Raul Meireles released Juan Mata, and the Spaniard easily went past Ronald Zubar to put it on the plate for Daniel Sturridge to double Chelsea’s lead.
Ashley Cole recovered from the ankle knock that kept him out of the Bayern Leverkusen game in midweek to start in the back four which now seems to be finally getting a sense of stability about it as John Terry, David Luiz & Branislav Ivanovic continue to start alongside the former Arsenal man, who has now made more appearances in a Blue shirt than in the red & white.
And Cole was a menace throughout for the Wolves team as he put in a great cross for Mata to score the third Chelsea goal on the stroke of half-time.
The start of the second half was again the same story as Ramires tested Wayne Hennessey from a brilliant volley.
This time though it didn’t take long for Wolves to create a chance of their own. After some nice build-up play, Sylvain Ebanks-Blake found Ward with neat through ball, but once again Stephen Ward failed to hit the target in what was Wolves best chance on the night.
Chelsea continued their patient passing game and could have gone ahead further when Sturridge went on an impressive run after being released by Ramires on the halfway line, as he went past Christopher Berra with ease and glided into the box and looked for a fellow Chelsea player, only to see his pass cleared off the line.
There was still no pressure on the Chelsea players as Didier Drogba shot from distance after being given ample space. Then Juan Mata should have really made it four when a save off Sturridge shot rebounded to him, but he stuck his first time shot straight at Hennessey.
Wolves then themselves forced Petr Cech into a similar double save; Matt Jarvis tested Petr Cech from the edge of the box, and his shot was parried away, but luckily for Jarvis it rebounded straight to him and he found Ward with his cutback. Ward released a powerful shot but Cech was again there to clear the danger.
Chelsea continued to push and probe a hapless Wolves side, but didn’t manage to add to the three goals in the first half in what was a very comfortable afternoon for Chelsea players and fans alike.
Daniel Sturridge continued to threaten and added another goal to his impressive early season tally, while Juan Mata enjoyed a good day out after struggling to make any impact for the past few weeks.
Oriol Romeu also put in a decent shift in, but there will be sterner tests from him in the future after enjoying a comfortable and steady game.
Andre Villas-Boas epitomized the importance of three points, but maintained that a lot of works still needs to be done, he said; ‘We’re not going to fill ourselves with arrogance and think this is going to be a good period from now on.
‘We have to wait and see but what makes us proud in this difficult situation is that if we reflect on the games we played we didn’t deserve the results we ended up with and today we continued by being the same team but finally ended up with getting the result.
‘It was important for us to get the three points and we managed to shorten the distance to United and Newcastle but for us to be a continuous threat we will need to continue to win and we have a game against Newcastle soon then a game against the leaders to show we are a quality side. So let’s wait and see but today was important. ‘
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic (Bosingwa 76), D Luiz, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires, Romeu, Meireles (Lampard 69); Sturridge, Drogba (Torres 76), Mata.
Scorers: Terry 6, Sturridge 28, Mata 44.