[RATINGS] Super 6 at sodden Stamford Bridge: Chelsea 6-0 WBA
Written by Joe Carroll
A rampant Chelsea welcomed back a former Blues hero yesterday in a fashion typical of champions- by battering his West Bromich Albion side 6-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Roberto Di Matteo will be best remembered by Chelsea fans for scoring (at the time) the quickest game in an FA Cup final. The Italian walked out of Stamford Bridge in 2002 no doubt with fond memories of the club, but he will have woken up this morning wishing his return to the club was all a bad dream. Fortunately for the Chelsea faithful Saturday’s evening fixture was a tangible reality and the Premier League champions could not have made a bigger statement of intent to their rivals
A Didier Drogba hat-trick and a brace from Florent Malouda sent Chelsea on their way to a record opening day victory for the biggest scoreline, with Frank Lampard netting the other. And whilst the scoreline suggests a sunny walk in the park for the west Londoners, the the first half was in reality a much tighter affair.
Indeed the Blues did get off to a dream start, taking just five minutes to get Di Matteo’s nightmare return under way. A typical Chelsea breakaway saw Ashley Cole with space to play down the left and as play was brought inside, Malouda was brought down just outside the West Brom penalty area. With a wealth of free kick specialists at their disposal, it was Drogba who placed the ball, and a very nervous Scott Carson awaited the outcome. Drogba’s kick was not the most stinging effort, but the partially unsighted Carson could only fumble the shot leaving Malouda with a simple tap in.
With one goal down, Chelsea fans could be forgiven for expecting a few more before half time, but that was not the way it was to play out. Matteo’s men struck back midway through the half, with Petr Cech needed to intervene to preserve his side’s lead.
Graham Dorrans found space in the Chelsea half and unleashed a shot that diverted off his team mate Roman Bednar. Whilst not too troubling for his fellow Czech international keeping net for the Blues, Cech provided a save that turned the deflection round the post.
Chelsea, as expected were providing bright football for those brave enough to withstand the wet and wild conditions at the Bridge, but the visitors were not content to stand and admire. They too enjoyed illuminating passages of play that was so characteristic of their Championship winning form last season.
And they were doing a good job of repelling the Chelsea onslaughts, that is until Essien was brought down in Drogba-scoring territory. It seemed that Di Matteo had instructed his men to stop Chelsea’s stars at all costs, but giving away free-kick after free-kick in and around their penalty was a dangerous tactic.
After going 40 minutes since Chelsea’s goal without conceding, the West Brom rearguard was breached again- and this one announced the opening of the floodgates at the Bridge. In typical fashion, Drogba guided the free-kick superbly between the defending wall as if caressing the leather with the inside of his right foot. Carson hadn’t a hope of reacting in time, and Chelsea fans saw their side go in at half-time two goals to the good.
And it didn’t take long when the game resumed for Chelsea to start cruising. A Malouda corner was met by John Terry who had done well to lose his marker. The England man headed towards the back post only for Youssouf Mulumbu to prevent it crossing the line. However his attempt at a clearance only resulted in a penalty box melee, and when the ball fell into the path of last season’s leading scorer, their was only going to be one outcome. The Ivorian turned the ball home to the reception of delighted home fans who were now certain their team had claimed all three points.
After their much coveted poor pre-season exploits, Chelsea were looking more and more like the champions they are with every pass. And it was arguably their best passing move of the game that put the result beyond any doubt. Nicolas Anelka drifted in field without so much as a West Brom player noticing and disguised a lovely pass that defenders took for a shot. The pass found Cole, who seemed to be operating more as a forward than a defender, in plenty of space inside the area who dutifully rolled the ball inside to Lampard. Their was no mistake whether this one was over the line, as the England man simply passed the ball in to the net. Carson could only look helplessly at his team mates with a look that said “If you’re not going to do your job lads, then there’s not much I can do”.
That goal came just after the hour mark, and five minutes later they hit number five. Again, Chelsea were afforded too much space for Carson’s liking with Cole again causing problems down the left side. This time he linked up with Drogba who let fly with his right boot from the edge of the area. Whilst the shot took a heavy deflection from West Brom’s Tamas, their is no doubt that Drogba will be claiming his first hat trick of the season, at the first time of asking.
With Di Matteo consigned to opening day defeat, their was still more time for his old team to rub even more salt in to the wound. With only minutes of injury time left, Anelka who seems to revel in the supporting role at Stamford Bridge these days found his fellow countryman Malouda with a delicate chip that evaded the West Brom defence. Rounding the ‘keeper, the winger managed to squeeze his shot in from a tight angle, hitting the post on its way in.
There was no doubting that Chelsea were full value for their win, and Carlo Ancelotti was delighted that after a stuttering pre-season, his players really hit it off when it mattered. The flood of goals will do their goal difference no harm at all, especially in light of last seasons title chase that came very close to being won on goals. However there was a hint of wariness in Ancelotti’s post match comments whilst praising the great start his team has made.
“We did our job,” said Ancelotti. “This team can show this kind of play, scoring a lot of goals.
“We had a difficult pre-season, but now everything has come back to be OK. We played a good game and I am happy”
“They (the players) needed time and good training sessions – and maybe they are not yet 100% but they are already in good condition. They can improve and in two weeks, we will be 100%.”
If this is not a Chelsea side at 100%, then the Premier League had best take this as a warning, and heed the lessons learned by a returning hero. A six star display whilst not at full flow offers plenty of encouragement for the rest of the season.
Chelsea: Cech 6, Cole 8, Terry 7, Alex 6, Ferreira 6, Mikel 7, Lampard 8, Essien 7, Anelka 8, Malouda 8, Drogba 9
West Brom: Carson 4, Cech 5, Tamas 5, Pablo 4, Jara 4, Morrison 5, Brunt 5, Thomas 5, Dorrans 6, Mulumbu 5, Bednar 5
Is Drogba already on his way to another Golden Boot?…What does this signal to Chelsea’s title rivals?…please leave your comments below…
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