[VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS & RATINGS] Bolton 0-4 Chelsea: Drogba provides the spark as Blues set Bolton alight
Chelsea gave their Premier League sceptics the biggest indication yet that they are back to their best as they battered Bolton Wanderers 4-0 at the Reebok Stadium.
Didier Drogba, the man who has been criticised as much as any at Stamford Bridge during the past few months turned on the style to inspire his club to yet another victory at Bolton- you have to go back 13 years to find the last time the Trotters beat the Blues on home soil. The Ivorian’s spectacular effort early on opened the floodgates for the visitors before Florent Malouda made it two before half time. Nicolas Anelka put the game beyond the home side shortly after the break and Ramires put any hope of a Bolton come back to bed with a smart volley on 75 minutes.
The victory ensures that Chelsea move ahead of their London rivals Tottenham into 4th spot after the former’s draw at the weekend. With a game in hand on their big spending contenders Man City, hope of retaining their Premier League crown has returned to the club who certainly look like a different team to the one that fell apart in the fall.
Despite the happy ending, it was Bolton who looked like they might steal the show as their early endeavour saw them threaten the Chelsea goal. Bolton captain Kevin Davies had the best chance to give the Reebok a roaring start. The robust centre forward however shot tamely at Petr Cech after Johan Elmander had flicked on a Martin Petrov cross. The chance clearly startled Chelsea and boss Carlo Ancelotti was clearly keen to avoid a repeat performance of their visit to Molineux where Wolves stunned the Blues by taking an early lead. Chelsea never recovered in that game, but any sense of deja vu for Ancelotti was to stop there.
Drogba looked lively from the beginning and took advantage of some sloppy play from Gretar Steinsson. The Bolton man took too long on the ball and could merely watch helplessly as the Ivorian took one look at goal and unleashed a spectacular effort that burst the back of the net, despite ‘keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen’s best attempts to keep it out.
It was the kind of moment that appeared to lift the whole team. A moment of divine inspiration that can only be summoned by a special type of player- and Drogba is still that type of player. Chelsea were looking more and more like their confident selves and the swagger that comes with being English champions seemed to be returning more and more by the minute.
Nicolas Anelka, the former Bolton man was thwarted by a saving Zat Knight tackle as the visitors looked to attack at every possible opportunity. But the ball was not confined to the Bolton penalty area and moments after Anelka’s chance, Cech had the opportunity to dispel any question marks over his status as a world class goalie. Matt Taylor met another Petrov cross with a header that would have burst through a concrete wall never mind the net, but the imposing Czech was at hand to push what looked like a certain goal round the post.
The second and decisive goal had an element of fortune, but it could not have come at a better time for Ancelotti’s side. With just four minutes of the first half to play, Malouda cut back from the Bolton by-line only to be met by the brick wall that resembles Gary Cahill. Unfortunately for the defender, the ball rebounded straight to the French winger who found the net from the tightest of angles.
A Bolton goal at that stage could have turned the game on it’s head, but the task got even more difficult for the home team just 10 minutes after the interval. Michael Essien who put in one of his best performances in recent weeks, found himself in a dangerous position and pulled the ball back for what looked like a simple Drogba tap in. The Ivorian’s effort rebounded off Knight but Anelka happened to be in the right place at the right time and slotted home in typically cool fashion.
The result now seemed to be beyond Bolton as Chelsea looked to be really enjoying themselves. But they still plugged away and the introduction of Mark Davies almost paid off when he combined well with striker Elmander. A quick one-two saw the sub steal between the Chelsea back line but the situation was well read by ‘keeper Cech who was alert to the danger, diving at the midfielder’s feet.
The comeback was not to be, and Chelsea were to cap a superb performance with an emphatic scoreline. Essien again turned provider, seemingly thriving in a more creative capacity, picking out the Brazilian Ramires in the Bolton area who had the time and the poise to side foot home from close range. The Blues had certainly given Bolton the boot, and in doing so really kick-started a stuttering campaign which in recent months threatened to turn into a failed attempt of retaining their status as champions.
With a flurry of goals and maximum points to take back down South, Chelsea will be pleased with a job very well done. They lie four points adrift of 3rd placed Man City with a game in hand and confidence boosting score-fest. They travel to Goodison Park next for their FA Cup encounter with 2009 finalist Everton and if they can pick up where they left off here at the Reebok then there’s every reason to suggest that all is not lost.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen 5, Steinsson 4, Robinson 4, Cahill 5, Knight 6, Muamba 6 (M Davies 5), Taylor 6, Holden 5 (Blake 3), Petrov 6 (Moreno 4), Elmander 5, K Davies 6
Chelsea: Cech 7, Ivanovich 6, Cole 7, Bosingwa 6, Terry 7, Essien 8, Ramires 7 (Kalou 5), Mikel 7 (McCreachan 6), Malouda 7, Drogba 8, Anelka 8
Is this a clear demonstration that Chelsea have turned the corner?…What’s in store for the Blues now?…Can they go on to knock Man U off their perch?…please leave your comments below…