Saturday, 23 October 2010

Chelsea 2 Wolves 0: Blues stride clear, but Carlo Ancelotti's playing it cool



Sealing the deal: Sub Salomon Kalou clinched victory over Wolves with a late effort

While Chelsea’s immediate rivals in Manchester have allowed themselves to be distracted by the Wayne Rooney saga, it may have escaped their notice that the Blues are quietly accumulating a significant lead in the title race.

Yesterday, though not without its troublesome moments, was eventually an entirely routine victory, even if its outcome remained in doubt until Salomon Kalou’s late strike finally put the game beyond Wolves.

While the result would have been expected, for now Chelsea’s defence of their Premier League title continues unabated. With a relatively benign run of fixtures to come for the Londoners — Liverpool away from home having lost its potency of late — Manchester United may find themselves some way adrift by the time they visit Stamford Bridge just before Christmas.

Carlo Ancelotti, however, is buying none of this at present. ‘The difficult moment will arrive,’ the Chelsea manager cautioned yesterday. ‘When it does, we have to be ready. We have a good advantage at the moment but Manchester City can be within two points if they win, so it’s too early to say we have enough points. We’ve started the season well, that is all.’

And, as Ancelotti went on to point out, there were times when this game threatened to diverge from the script. ‘It was a tough game and we didn’t play so well,’ he said.

Indeed, Wolves were something of a revelation yesterday. It is true that at times they fulfilled their villainous role as the league’s dirtiest team, notably when Richard Stearman produced an agricultural challenge on Didier Drogba which had neither the slightest intention nor hope of playing the ball. Yet for long periods, they also passed the ball crisply and caused Chelsea some discontent.

For manager Mick McCarthy, pitted against the team he believes will win the league, that remained a source of both pride and frustration.
‘I think Chelsea are the best team, no question,’ he said. ‘They have loads of ability, they are tough

physically and clever with the runs they make. They look one way and pass the other. They are a fantastic team ... and we should have scored against them!’

Goal machine: Florent Malouda got his seventh league goal of the season

Yes, they should have. Throughout they produced chances, from the 20th minute, when Dave Edwards headed a Kevin Foley cross goalwards only for Petr Cech to save smartly, to the 71st, when Chelsea’s goalkeeper was again alert, plucking Kevin Doyle’s glancing header from a David Jones corner.

‘It was a good performance but we probably needed a bit more devilment in front of goal,’ said McCarthy.

They did have a serial irritant in Stephen Hunt, still a bĂȘte noire to Chelsea fans for his challenge on Cech while at Reading four years ago. He came on at half-time to predictable rhyming obscenities.

‘He relishes that,’ said McCarthy. ‘I was glad anyway, because if they were going to give anyone abuse it was going to be him and not me.’

Punch drunk: Petr Cech clears his lines as David Edwards lurks

He was a thorn in his opponents’ side and had almost scored within three minutes, stooping low with a diving header that Michael Essien was forced to clear off the line.

Doyle then forced a smart save on 52 minutes before the Czech keeper collected well from a Nenad Milijas effort on 63 minutes.

Nevertheless, this was ultimately a day of general good news for Chelsea. Not only did they extend that lead at the top of the table to five points but Jose Bosingwa, who sustained a knee ligament injury against Aston Villa almost a year previous to the day, made his first start since then.

Incredibly, he looked as fresh and inventive as ever, his attacking intent complementing Ashley Cole on the opposite flank. And within 13 minutes, he had all but completed a heroic comeback when a delightful exchange of passes with Drogba saw him unleash a tremendous shot from range, which Marcus Hahnemann did well to tip wide.

Pleasing return: Jose Bosingwa made an impact after a year on the sidelines

‘He played really well,’ said Ancelotti. ‘I think he was one of our best players. To be out that long is very difficult and he was very excited before the game. He’s an important player for us.’

With Frank Lampard scheduled to resume training on Monday and possibly in contention to play at Blackburn next Saturday, Chelsea are strengthening by the week.

And good though Wolves were yesterday, they could not live with Chelsea in their finest moments, the opening goal ample demonstration of the champions’ attacking prowess.

Nicolas Anelka darted down the right, played a lovely inside ball for Yury Zhirkov, who, in turn, pulled it back first time for Florent Malouda.
From eight yards out, the Frenchman struck firmly home.

The decider was just as slick and impressive. Substitute Kalou found Drogba, who then fed Essien.He slipped the ball back to Kalou, who had continued his run and finished the move with a firm strike to seal the points.

source :dailymail

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