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Chelsea's Didier Drogba is back from Africa and he's lost the villain tag

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03 Feb 2010 00:47:04

Chelsea's Didier Drogba is back from Africa and he's lost the villain tag

Roman Abramovich kept his cheque book in his pocket for once last month and the current Chelsea squad and the good people of Cobham, Surrey, were spared the sight of a nude, middle-aged Italian man parading round a football pitch or two. Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti had vowed to strip naked and sprint round the Chelsea training ground if he added any players during the January transfer window. The Italian coach duly delivered his promise and so his team head into the final months of the season without reinforcements. Look who's back! Drogba scored on his Chelsea return against Hull But it was a gamble Ancelotti was prepared to make, particularly asthe Chelsea boss knew, having survived January and the loss of hisAfrican players, that he would effectively be welcoming back newsignings for the remainder of the season. One of them, Michael Essien, has returned from the Africa Cup ofNations injured and so a vital cog in the Chelsea machine is absentagain. Step forward Deco to claim the anchor role in the Chelsea midfield,a task he covered with his usual intelligence and calm authority lastnight. Out of action: Essien returned from the Africa Cup of Nations on crutches The bigger and fitter figure to return from the African tournamentis Didier Drogba who hardly set his own continent alight with a subduedfinals in Angola. The pre-tournament favourites Ivory Coast, who face a daunting WorldCup Finals group containing Brazil and Portugal, were knocked out withbarely a whimper which meant Drogba has come back to England far fromexhausted and presumably rejuvenated. On Chelsea's travels the controversial frontman is usually the hostfans' pantomime villain, a role which has been handed on to his captainJohn Terry for the foreseeable future. Drogba meanwhile could concentrate on his football. In his firstgame back, it took him some time to warm to his task in theconsiderably colder conditions in East Yorkshire. His first act was to bring down Stephen Hunt, whose superb left-footed corner led to Hull's goal from Steven Mouyokolo. Drogba was in the melee then, marking fresh air as the visitorsconceded their 15th goal from a set piece out of the 20 they have letin this season. He then unleashed a wild shot which flew miles wide and thecharacteristic arm waving started midway through the first half whenFrank Lampard dared to misdirect a pass in his general direction. But all that was forgotten before the break when Drogba was givenfree-kick responsibilities after Mark Clattenburg's generous award of afree-kick on the edge of the Hull box. He struck the ball perfectly through Boaz Myhill's wall and inside his far post. Drogba proved in one instant that he is back.  Hull 1 Chelsea 1: Didier Drogba scores on return as Premier League leaders are held by CityTerry to miss FA Cup game - Chelsea captain John could be given time off to save marriage after revelations of affair with Wayne Bridge's exJohn Terry scandal: It's my call, says Fabio Capello as England boss summons captain for crisis talksCHELSEA FC


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