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Chelsea 5 Blackburn 0: Five star Blues head back to the top of Premier League
Published : 25 Oct 2009 16:11:59
Something like normal service has resumed at Chelsea, with nine goals in a week and two resounding victories. Frank Lampard is scoring freely again, Joe Cole has returned from injury and all was well with the world at Stamford Bridge yesterday evening. Chelsea were impressive as they swept aside an abject Blackburn Rovers to return to the top of the Premier League. Gael Givet Dejection: Gael Givet reacts after his own goal That said, any manager feeling an inkling of pressure from his employers could not wish for more than to encounter Atletico Madrid, a shadow of the team who qualified for the Champions League, and this woeful Blackburn side, who declined to compete. For now, Carlo Ancelotti will worry little about the quality of his opponents while emphasising the positives of his Chelsea players. They have responded positively to defeats by Wigan and Aston Villa in what has been an emotional week for their manager, who spent much of it in Italy tending to his seriously ill father, Giuseppe. Frank Lampard Back in the goals: Frank Lampard celebrates scoring his first for Chelsea Regarding more mundane matters on the pitch, he will know that sterner tests lie ahead, notably next month when Manchester United and Arsenal visit, and that better teams will exploit Chelsea’s evident weaknesses. But any opponents who decline to display whole-hearted commitment against them will be dispatched in emphatic fashion, as Blackburn were. Ancelotti considered yesterday’s performance Chelsea’s best in his short reign, a pleasure not shared, obviously, by his Blackburn counterpart. ‘The second half was pathetic,’ said Sam Allardyce. ‘At the moment, these players are not good enough, bottom line. The mental resilience is not there, the physical challenge is not there; they just want to play football and that doesn’t get you results.’ Blackburn were without key players, including David Dunn and Christopher Samba, who were struck down with a virus, Franco di Santo, who was ineligible, and Pascal Chimbonda, who had a calf injury. Michael Essien Pure delight: Michael Essien celebrates with his team-mates after scoring Chelsea's third goal Nevertheless, as Allardyce made clear, they lacked basic competitive mettle. As for Chelsea, none could be happier with his performance than Joe Cole, relishing his first Premier League start since sustaining a knee injury last January. His energy and sharpness cannot have failed to impress the watching Franco Baldini, assistant to England manager Fabio Capello, and one audacious piece of skill on 62 minutes, when he executed a chip by dragging his left foot behind his right, sent Paul Robinson scrambling to save. Indeed, his only disappointment can have been his failure to score. His chance, when it came, was perhaps a little too early into his comeback. Just 25 seconds had passed when Frank Lampard set him up for a free header six yards out; Cole directed it wide but did little wrong thereafter. ‘I was very impressed,’ said Ancelotti. ‘He is a genius. He has fantastic quality in midfield. After nine months out it is not easy to play like Joe played. I’m happy for him and for us, as he’s an important player.’ Despite Chelsea missing a plethora of chances, with Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Michael Ballack and Lampard all going close after Cole’s first-minute miss, it took a Blackburn defender to set them on their way after 20 minutes. Didier Drogba Five star: Didier Drogba celebrates scoring Chelsea's fifth goal Ballack, dominant in midfield, sent Anelka sprinting down the left, past Lars Jacobsen, and he cut inside and delivered a cross which perplexed the retreating Gael Givet. In his efforts to steer the ball away, Givet turned it into his own net. The game effectively ended as a contest three minutes after halftime when Drogba tore past Martin Olsson to cross. Jacobsen failed to clear and Lampard seized on the opportunity to steer the ball past a cluster of bodies and into the net. If Blackburn had any inclination to strike back, all remaining resolve dissipated on 52 minutes when Michael Essien unleashed a 35-yard strike that thundered past Robinson, Blackburn allowing Essien time and space to line up his shot, with Steven N’zonzi making but a token effort to close down his opponent. So there could be little sympathy for them on 59 minutes when Ryan Nelsen felt he was hard done by in conceding a penalty, with Drogba tumbling to the ground with his customary histrionics. Referee Alan Wiley was well up with the play and made the correct call, as Nelsen had panicked after being dispossessed by the Ivorian and failed to play the ball. Lampard thumped the penalty home for his third goal of the week. Freed of the responsibility at the apex of Chelsea midfield diamond, the Lampard of old is beginning to re-emerge. More was to come, with Blackburn by now a shambles and Chelsea rampant. When Blackburn failed to defend a Ballack corner on 64 minutes, Drogba headed in from close range, despite Nelsen trying to unsettle him, to finally claim the goal his performance merited. Even John Terry went close with a sweetly executed volley from just inside the box, which required a smart save from Robinson. It was that kind of day for Chelsea.