After watching Chelsea thump Bolton for the second time in the space of four days, a copy and paste procedure almost crossed this writer’s mind, but make no mistakes this was a much tougher result for the Blues.
Ironically the Trotters were taken back to the slaughter house this Saturday, but the first half was evenly contested in the middle of the park. Bolton manager Gary Megson in an attempt to prevent history repeating itself employed a diamond formation to mirror the Chelsea set-up – a bold decision that almost paid dividends with Johan Elmander heading just over in the opening minutes. However this plan fell to raptures towards the end of the first half as the diamond formation lost one of its jewels and the Londoners were quick to rob them of the crowned prize. Jlloyd Samuel was sent for an early shower and Bolton were unable to recover as Chelsea siege forward bombarding the Bolton goal to which Jussi Jaaskelainen protected strongly.
In the off chance, Bolton did create opportunities of their own, strikers Kevin Davies and Elmander blazed wide after a route one philosophy was exercised, a simple flick on seemed to evade the Chelsea back-line on two occasions although Bolton were unable to successfully profit. It was the Londoners however who broke the deadlock as Didier Drogba (who provided another sensational performance in a blue shirt) was brought down by last man Samuel, consequently seeing the left-back walking down the tunnel and as a result shaping the remainder of proceedings. Frank Lampard struck the first blow from the resultant penalty, the midfielder full of confidence after breaking a scoring drought, looked as assured as always stepping up against a spot-kick specialist in Jaaskelainen. The second half allowed more space for the Chelsea spine, with Deco able to pick passes and wander freely – Bolton had inadvertently created their own death sentence.
Chelsea still lacked natural width as both Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa were ruled out through injury allowing Paulo Ferreira and Branislav Ivanovic to slot in at left and right-back accordingly. Joe Cole was omitted from the side after exquisite performances since returning from injury, the midfield quartet instead consisted of Michael Ballack, Michael Essien, Lampard and Deco, a recognisable and ruthless assemblage in their own right. A neatly taken finish from Deco doubled the lead before Branislav Ivanovic made it three, although the dubious goals committee may be brave enough to challenge the powerful Serb in awarding the goal to a less grateful Zat Knight. It was the last goal that epitomised the previous four games as Chelsea’s attacking flair was presented in high fashion – Deco caressed the ball off his chest for Lampard to flick through the standstill Bolton defence before Drogba coolly slotted home the finish. A goal of real class from the league’s top spot occupiers, cementing their position although Manchester United kept up the pressure with a win of their own in the late afternoon kick-off.
The faces changed but the Bolton faithful were surplus to the class of the Blues. Kevin Davies, although a nuisance his introduction. failed to notably impact on the happenings. The Bolton midfield trio in front of defensive shield Fabrice Muamba, lacked presence throughout and were often dominated by the power and control of Lampard, Ballack and Essien who arguably overshadowed the youthful and inexperienced midfield. With this in mind it was by no means a poor display from the northern side who will feel unfortunate to have been dented by the opening goal and sending off. Although it was a relatively straight-forward decision for Peter Walton, and there were no complaints from Bolton – they may feel aggrieved to have seen only 10 white shirts emerge from the tunnel after the interval.
Carlo Ancelotti in a post-match interview kept the teams feet stuck firmly to the ground, although it was a pleasing string of results after a turbulent couple of away games, the Blues manager was quick to inform fans not to be over expectant. A succession of 4-0, 5-0, 4-0, 4-0 results has produced a total of seventeen goals and four consecutive clean sheets, news that may even be enough to worry the next Premier League opponents to face the team from the Bridge. As the first real test in Chelsea colours for Ancelotti comes against his toughest competitor to date, a managerial affair with one of the greats of the game in. Manchester United lay near on the horizon.