I’m going to keep this short. Anyone who is reading this obviously knows what happened in our last run out on Tuesday, and I don’t feel I can really add anything to the review by Tony and subsequent comments on the last post. So instead of musing on our current form and confidence, or whether we’d take our eye off the ball a little bit with some big games coming up, my pre-match thoughts really focused on QPR, how desperately they needed to get a result here to keep their survival under their own control, and whether they would be able to put in a shift for 90 minutes and maybe nick a result.
As it turned out, QPR’s resistance lasted about as long as one of Jordan’s marriages.
Luiz and Cahill were both injured and Ivanovic was banned so Bosingwa covered at centre-back. Apart from that it was a pretty strong team:
Cech, Cole, Terry, Bosingwa, Ferreira, Lampard, Mata, Essien, Kalou, Torres, Sturridge.
The first half
We started brightly, utilising some crisp passing, and within the first minute Studge found himself on the edge of the QPR area, took a step inside, and curled a right-footed shot in at the near post to put us one up. If I’m being honest it was probably a soft one for Kenny to concede. A few minutes later Sturridge runs off the shoulder of the last defender and almost collects Kalou’s sliding pass, Ferdinand just managing to slide in to intercept. It’s a slightly scrappy start to the game and QPR look vulnerable to the counter-attack, especially as Chelsea are passing it so quickly along the floor.
We then get a couple of corners in quick succession, the second coming from an audacious attempt by Lampard to chip Kenny from the edge of the area. Mata swings the resulting corner into the six yard box and Terry rises easily clear of his marker to nod in from close range. Two-nil up and less than 15 minutes gone.
You can feel the confidence flowing now as we start a 20 minute spell where we play some of the best football I’ve seen us play this season. Every time we take it into QPR’s half the ball is moved about so quickly they just can’t live with it. Torres wins it on the halfway line, it flows through Mata and out to Kalou who a plays a beautifully weighted pass back into Torres’ path. A lovely touch allows Torres to control it and create the angle to just pass it by Kenny. A few minutes later QPR gift us a fourth as Onouha and Kenny combine to spill Mata’s drifted pass right at the feet of Torres who finishes smartly.
Although we let up a bit just before half time we could have gone into the break five up. Mata, Lampard and Torres at times just carve up the whole QPR team between them. Kalou and Sturridge are also causing problems, with Kalou for once managing to find someone with pretty much every pass. QPR’s efforts this half were limited to some poor set pieces and the odd cross; the first time I even noticed Zamora was on the pitch is when he hurt himself challenging Terry for a header about 25 minutes in.
The second half
Unsurprisingly we start the second half with a bit less urgency. Mata is still at the centre of most of our play but instead of quick one-twos and sliding passes we try to play a few more cross-field balls and generally slow down the buildup. Mackie has QPR’s best effort of the game with a 25 yard shot that Cech does well to tip round the post, but generally they seem happy to focus on damage limitation. Just as I begin to think we may take it easy all half Mata and Torres combine to make it five nil. Torres looks full of confidence as he runs off the centre-back’s shoulder, collects the pass Mata has angled inside the full-back, and calmly tucks it into the corner past Kenny. A few games ago he probably would have looked for the return ball but today he just makes it look so easy.
About three quarters of the way through the game RDM makes a couple of subs – Mata comes off for Malouda and then Ramires replaces Kalou. The commentator mentions that it was Mata’s 24th birthday yesterday. What a player we’ve got if we can keep him for the next decade! Anyway I think the subs have the desired effect, injecting a bit of energy. Ramires is his usual self while Malouda is clearly keen to try to make sure he plays a part in the cup finals coming up. These two immediately start to combine with Lampard and Torres in a move where all four are involved but the ball just doesn’t quite break for Frank to get his shot off.
A few moments later Ramires collects the ball on the right, passes infield to Torres and carries on down the line. The return from Torres is perfectly timed so Ramires can get his head up and pick a low cross back into the area. Out of the four Chelsea players up it drops nicely to Malouda who calmly passes it into the left of the goal. 6-0.
The rest of the game is a bit of a training session really, though both subs are still keen to make an impression. Hutchinson got a run out for 10 minutes which was nice to see. Terry got caught offside at one point, charging up the pitch to try and get a second. Annoyingly we then concede after Onouha beats his man on the right and cuts it back for Cisse to finish well. The last five minutes we have a last couple of attacks, forcing a corner and then Lampard and Torres linking well with Onouha having to dive in and block the shot.
The player ratings
- Goalie/defenders – 7 – No-one had a lot to do but all of them did well; Cech made a good save, Cole played well on the left, Terry got on the scoresheet, Bosingwa looked fairly solid, and Ferreira did his usual trick of putting in a solid performance despite only playing once every couple of months.
- Essien – 7 – Still not near his best but improving slightly with every game.
- Lampard – 8.5 – He always links everything in midfield but today his play with Mata and Torres was superb.
- Mata – 9 – My joint Man of the Match, he was involved in four of five goals scored while he was on the pitch.
- Sturridge – 7 – At times he was brilliant but at other times did his usual thing of over elaborating.
- Kalou – 8 – I think his pace on the wing has really been a factor since RDM brought him back into the team and today he played some beautifully weighted passes.
- Torres – 9 – I couldn’t separate him and Mata for Man of the Match. What impressed me most was his confidence and how easy he made everything look.
It was as if all the attacking we had to hold back from in the Barcelona games came out today. In Mata and Lampard we have two players who can sit in midfield and pick out attacking passes all day long, and when the rest of the team are full of running they will cause trouble for any opposition. What really stood out for me was the speed of passing at times, especially in the first half. Torres absolutely feasted on the service he got today and took all of his goals so easily. If we play like this next weekend Liverpool should be worried.
I’m at a loss to sum it all up really. I’m just happy to enjoy the moment; an absolutely emphatic win and a top class performance.
Just one last word – I saw Abramovich was at the ground today… if he wasn’t 100% on RDM before let’s hope today convinced him!
The press reports
The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “Victory here thrust Chelsea back into contention for a top four finish, particularly with Newcastle to visit south-west London on Wednesday night, for all that it was achieved against opponents whose defending was so feeble as to invite a thrashing. Torres and his supply-line, the sublime Juan Mata principal among them, felt like flat track bullies with this a mismatch from the moment the visitors were breached within the opening 47 seconds. Chelsea had not previously won a league derby this season. They broke that duck by registering their best ever victory over these local rivals.”
The Independent, Sam Wallace: “This was a great afternoon for Chelsea who are now in sixth place just a point behind Spurs and Newcastle. Should Di Matteo’s team beat Newcastle on Wednesday then they will be two points behind Arsenal with two games to play and, at the very least, well in the running for the fourth Champions League place.”
The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “As Fernando Torres swept QPR away with a hat-trick, a huge smile spread across the face of Roman Abramovich. All is well at Chelsea, finalists in the Champions League, FA Cup and FA Youth Cup.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Fernando Torres hit a first Chelsea hat-trick as we stormed to a monumental win against our relegation-threatened rivals.”