Club Focus – Chelsea – Five points clear after Wolves win

Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League as a 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers coupled with nearest rivals Manchester City’s 3-0 defeat to Arsenal left them five points clear at the summit.

Reigning champions Chelsea consolidated their position as league leaders on Saturday as Florent Malouda and substitute Salomon Kalou saw off a stubborn Wolves side that threatened to cause an upset at times in a close game at Stamford Bridge. Having taken care of their business the Blues then saw their nearest rivals City fall to a 3-0 home defeat that enabled the Londoners to open a five-point gap at the top of the Premier League after nine games.

 Carlo Ancelotti’s men welcomed back Didier Drogba into the starting line-up for their game with Mick McCarthy’s Wolves and were tested throughout by a threatening Wolves side. The Blues lacked their normal fluidity offensively, struggling in the final third against a strong defensive unit employed by the visitors. Despite their difficulties, left winger Malouda broke the deadlock midway through the first half, capitalising on a clever cut back by Yuri Zhirkov to fire past Marcus Hanneman in the Wolves goal for his seventh Premier League goal of the season. The Blues then toiled for an hour as the resolute visitors, who end the weekend in the bottom three, threatened to spoil Chelsea’s winning run at Stamford Bridge, stretching back to the end of February.

Striker Kevin Doyle failed to convert numerous half chances as well as a series of close opportunities to breach the West Londoners resolute backline. With just over ten minutes remaining, Kalou wrapped up the victory with a confident finish after gathering Michael Essien’s clever through ball to slot home. The Blues closed out the game with ease and had opportunities to add a third, while in keeping a clean sheet, the home side set a new club record of eight consecutive Premier League games without conceding.

 As well as the result for Carlo Ancelotti, the welcome return to the starting line-up of Jose Bosingwa will certainly give the manager reason to smile. The Portuguese fullback made his first start in over a year after recovering from a knee injury that required surgery and a long rehabilitation. He came through his first start well, offering his services in attack, going close with a couple of attempts as well as defending with assertion, denying Wolves opportunities down his flank throughout. After the game, Ancelotti was full of praise for the returning right-back, who may press for a regular starting position in future weeks. “Bosingwa was one the best players on the pitch,” Ancelotti said. “He put a lot of pressure on in the second half by pushing up without the ball and he had opportunities to score. For 70 minutes he played very well and he is an important player for us in the future,” the Italian added.

 

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