Portsmouth 0-5 Chelsea: Back on track or easy pickings?
By Joe Carroll.
An impressive display from a rejuvenated Chelsea side ensured that they are still within touching distance of Premier League leaders Manchester United- whilst doing no harm to their goal difference as they recorded an emphatic 5-0 win against bottom club Portsmouth at Fratton Park. After their disappointing 1-1 draw with Blackburn on Sunday, it was imperative that Chelsea bounced back, and so they did in some style albeit against a poor Portsmouth side. Leading scorer Didier Drogba and the evermore impressive Florent Malouda grabbed a brace each which was more than enough to seal them a vital 3 points before Frank Lampard added the fifth in the final minute of the game.
The game began in a fashion that would have pleased both manager and fan alike; with Chelsea demonstrating their superiority. The only frustrating aspect of the opening exchanges being that the away side failed to turn possession into point-winning-goals, as chances went begging for both Ricardo Carvalho and Drogba whilst Lampard went close with a spectacular 25-yard effort. Any likeliness of a goal for Avram Grant’s Portsmouth came in the form of a Jamie O’Hara free kick. However the usually precise midfielder failed to beat the Chelsea wall, and from the break Chelsea went close once more. It seemed only a matter of time before Chelsea broke the deadlock.
And indeed in the 31st minute that is what they did. An unchallenged Deco, in the side tonight for the indifferent Solomon Kalou, headed a bouncing ball past the high Portsmouth defensive line causing David James to rush frantically from his goal. A wild attempt at a clearance caused the England man to miss the ball entirely, leaving Drogba to calmly slot home his first of the game. The Pompey ‘keeper will be hoping Fabio Capello does not see this ‘assist’, at least not until it is released on the next ‘Football’s Greatest Goalkeeping Bloopers’ DVD, by which time the England boss will have picked his World Cup Squad.
Chelsea should have been out of sight by the time Lee Mason signalled the end of the first 45 minutes, but Ancelotti’s side had to wait until after the break before they could accomplish the rout. And it took only four minutes for Malouda to find the first of his two goals with a well placed shot after cutting in from the left. His second, and Chelsea’s third soon followed and in doing so brought about the question from aggrieved home fans whether the French international should have been on the pitch at all. Moments before half-time Malouda was booked by Mason for an elbow to the face of Ricardo Rocha after the two met in an aerial duel. Had Mason decided the offence was punishable by a red card, who knows whether a 10-man Chelsea would have been able to hang on?
Unjust as the decision may have been, Malouda remained on the pitch to the dismay of the Portsmouth fans, and in the dominating manner of which we are used to seeing, Chelsea truly put the game beyond the financially stricken club. Drogba capped off an impressive performance with his second of the game and 30th of the season; a smart finish low to James’ left. If the Blues are serious about ousting rivals Manchester United from the Premier Leagues top-spot, the Ivorian star will be key and Chelsea fans will be hoping that he can keep himself fit for the remaining fixtures.
The visitors rounded off the evening’s proceedings with an all but farcical goal that again involved Pompey ‘keeper James. Drogba’s looping header across goal from a right hand side cross was met by an unmarked Lampard who barely broke a sweat in heading Chelsea’s fifth; a header that was lacking in power and should really have been saved comfortably by James.
Despite the little resistance offered by Chelsea’s opponents, Ancelotti can be delighted with the way which his side have bounced back after a disappointing run of results.
“We’d lost some confidence in our play in the last few weeks, but we played well here”, confessed the Chelsea boss. “This performance will improve our confidence. We have to prepare for these remaining games like they are finals. It won’t be easy, but it’s important to stay involved in the Premier League”.
Now just one point behind leaders Manchester United, only time will tell if the Blues have indeed turned the corner and if they will find themselves in a similar position when they turn up at Old Trafford in two weeks time. With the two sides boasting the same goal difference, how important will these 5 goals as well as the 30 achieved by Drogba, prove to be come May?
Chelsea: Cech 6; Zhirkov 6; Carvalho 6; Terry 7; Ferreira 5; Malouda 8; Lampard 8; Mikel 7; Deco 6; Sturridge 6; Drogba 9 MoM
Portsmouth: James 3; Rocha 6; Hreidarsson 5; Finnan 5; Mokeona 6; O’Hara 6; Mullins 5; Hughes 5; Wilson 5; Piquionne 6; Smith 5
Are Chelsea back to their best or was this just a poor Portsmouth side making them look good? Please leave your comments below…….
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