With thirteen goals in three games, the Blues are on a rampant spell with the midfield and attack collaborating in forceful displays. The midweek performance was warming on Blue eyes, with neat football in a compact midfield. Carlo Ancelotti’s familiarity of the Bolton footballing style was evident, as Chelsea capitalised on tempo alterations throughout the game, often changing gear to a quick pace and consequently the Northerners were often found chasing shadows. Technically gifted players such as Deco, Joe Cole and Flourent Malouda were able to provide an abundance of creativity for strikers Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge (who will be disappointed to walk away goalless on his full debut). Bolton struggled to find inroads, quickly shut down by the robust Serb Branislav Ivanovic who was immovable throughout. The visitors created few chances against the Chelsea onslaught, although Ivan Klasnic tickled the post and Matt Taylor had an effort blocked by Hilario, who was later replaced after hitting his head hard during the save. The Londoners however largely avoided a more physical approach – disregarding Bolton of a game they may have felt more suited and comfortable with. The win stretches Chelsea’s one 100% home record to ten games.
Salomon Kalou grasped another cup opportunity, opening the scoring with his fourth goal of the season, all of which incidentally have fallen in cup competitions. The Ivory Coast international headed home a cross of perfection from Paulo Fererria – who returned to first team action alongside Alex. Before the interval Malouda doubled the scoring after the Ivorian turned provider returning the ball to the French winger after the former Lyon player started the move. The first half came to an end but the team talk failed to inspire a diminishing Bolton side who faced a similar bombardment after the break, with Deco neatly striking an effort in from fifteen yards and ending any hope of a comeback. Young Sturridge was unable to capture the moment as he slotted wide on two occasions, but rest assured, the England U21 international will get further chances to add to his growing credentials. On the hour mark he was replaced by this season’s predator in opposition territory, and these Bolton fears were confirmed late on when Didier Drogba headed home a fourth for the Blues. A resounding cup win, but a Premier League test with a troublesome side lay on the horizon, a side likely to pose similar threats of the Stoke City team that almost stole the points until the latter stages of the tie back in early September.
This Saturday may prove a stern test of consistency for the Blues – the Premier League challenge they face against the Trotters is likely to see Kevin Davies reinstated to the side. The frontman is well known for his physical, typical English No.9 manner and was found guilty of the most fouls in the Premier League for three successive seasons between 2004 and 2007. Davies will provide a more abrupt confrontation for John Terry and co. to cope with in defence, winning a high percentage of headers, Davies is able to both hit the back of the net as well as bringing others into play. The former Blackburn and Southampton striker has been at the heart of seven of Bolton’s goals this season with five assists and two goals in nine games. Alex or Ivanovic may therefore be preferred to Ricardo Carvalho in the centre of defence to effectively combat this aerial threat. Bolton will look to expose Chelsea’s weaknesses in dealing with set-pieces, using their assets of Davies head and Taylor’s dead ball specialities to their advantage.
Chelsea on the back of two away defeats will look to break down a team normally competent against the ‘big four’, disrespectful of Wednesdays result. Chelsea is likely to play a similar style of fast paced football to that of their midweek display but first team changes are to be made, with Deco – despite a confident display in a deeper role – expected to be replaced by Michael Essien. Nicolas Anelka may be employed although the Christmas tree formation may see a return for Joe Cole to adopt the role behind Drogba. Whatever the changes, Ancelotti will not take a psychological tactic of announcing his side early on Saturday – as he did in the League Cup on Wednesday.