BOLTON WANDERERS 0
Any perspective champions need their fair share of these sorts of wins. Uncohesive and unconvincing for large parts, Chelsea eventually added another three points to their Premier League points haul. Now sat with a cosy four point cushion over Manchester United, there is an overriding feeling that the Londoners title charge is not only backed by form and momentum, but more crucially, luck.
It seems an eternity ago that the Blues current five game winning streak was started by an ill-placed divot at Fratton Park. Since then, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have rattled in 18 goals, conceding just two as they ponder a first club league and FA Cup double, but that run has also seen the Londoners be the beneficiaries of a number of potential game changing refereeing decisions. Didier Drogba and John Terry appeared to handle in the box in either half, an opinion not shared by any of the officials, however, to suggest that Chelsea were lucky, as against Aston Villa on Saturday, is only one side of the coin. Luck played a part, but, as with all champions they appear to be playing with a controlled efficiency to get the results, borne of a confidence and an experience of what to do and when. Saturdays visit to Tottenham will require a greater zest and energy, not to mention quality in their play, overall, their level of performance will need to be better than what was required to nudge past Owen Coyle’s men here tonight, and on current form, who’d back against them to deliver?
Essentially, for all the criticisms about the age of Chelsea’s squad, there is an old proverb that older age brings wisdom, and a stodgy performance against the Trotters was systematic of what Chelsea have been doing for years. Winning. They impressed few and enthralled fewer, yet Chelsea gave the impression they had room to spare, and a couple of gears to go if needed. As with the Villa non-penalty on Saturday, the incidents both happened at periods when Chelsea could respond, the fact a response wasn’t needed means there’s more in the tank for when it is. The old heads and legs of the Pensioners, evoke parallels to the tortoise and the hare, and with just four games remaining, can the relative hares of United and Arsenal rise from their slumber spots in time to stop the Blues grabbing the glory?
The conclusion of this season’s title may hinge on the two tricky away games they must negotiate at White Hart Lane and Anfield, but the air of conviction surrounding the side suggests they will tackle the tasks with the calculated manner of champions. Given the nature of this weekend’s Manchester derby, the sting may be taken out of the London version by the time kick-off arrives. If Chelsea cannot be dethroned, they will certainly not abdicate.
Slow and steady has never been a criticism.