On the back of this performance, Carlo Ancelotti will have a glorious selection headache ahead of the grudge match with Liverpool on Sunday, but all the evidence suggests that Drogba should be dropped. Whilst his French strike partner ran rings around The Black Cats rearguard, dropping deep and linking up well with Frank Lampard in the middle, Chelsea’s golden boot winner was effectively shackled by Nedum Onuoha.
The contrasting performances of the pair were – to Chelsea’s relief – not as detrimental as it threatened to be after just four minutes into the clash at The Stadium of Light. In fact, after a frantic 20 minutes of football, Chelsea reached a height that had eluded them in recent weeks with Anelka causing havoc going forward. Slick interchanging throughout the midfield laid the foundations for a dominant attacking display, an encouraging sign that should help dissolve any underlying fears Chelsea’s new signing has about the direction the club is heading.
Salomon Kalou continued his rich vein of form with yet another goal, having been justly awarded a rare start. The Ivorian’s knack for finding a goal from the bench will prove invaluable during the run-in and in the space of two days, Chelsea have evolved back into title challengers. The main cause of concern for Ancelotti was the lack of concentration and discipline during the opening exchanges and the careless nature in which his side awarded their hosts possession in their own half. Michael Essien, much more attacking minded in this game, was caught out on multiple occasions and failing to clear your lines against more clinical opposition will be severely punished.
David Luiz could make his bow at Stamford Bridge on the weekend, but Terry and Branislav Ivanovic once again formed a solid enough defensive duo. A slight cause for concern was the way in which Ivanovic needlessly picked up a yellow card for a tit-for-tat spat with Kieran Richardson as the game drew to a close. Unnecessary bookings are hardly high on the agenda for a club that boasted just two recognised centre-backs on the night and the mountainous Serbian would do well to control his temper.
In a thrilling encounter, Chelsea earned the spoils of all three points, but there were still lessons to be learnt from a hard fought victory. Torres will be encouraged by the gusto with which his new team mates probed their opponents, but it is Ancelotti who will be most joyous with his side’s display, as they look to make a last ditch title charge.
17 Bosingwa – 2 Ivanovic – 26 Terry – 3 Cole
5 Essien – 12 Mikel – 8 Lampard
39 Anelka – 11 Drogba – 21 Kalou
77 – 7 Ramires on for 12 Mikel
81 – 15 Malouda on for 21 Kalou90 – 19 Ferreira on for 17 Bosingwa