Sunday Times, John Aizlewood: "For Chelsea it could hardly have gone more to plan and their performance could hardly have been more professional. First they withstood West Bromwich Albion’s early onslaught. Then, once Albion’s sting had been drawn they scored three clinical goals before half-time, just to remind everyone who leads the Premier League this morning. And finally, they played out the second half with neither fuss nor ado."
The Observer, Stuart Barnes: "Stamford Bridge is not quite the fortress it used to be, but Chelsea can do no wrong on the road. They destroyed West Brom with three goals in the run-up to half-time to ensure a Premier League record 10th successive away win, three at the end of last season and seven so far this term."
Sunday Telegraph, Jonathan Wilson: "The problem with being a member of the Big Four is that you are judged by different standards to everybody else. Saturday’s victory was every bit as emphatic as the scoreline suggested, and yet there was a sense of the humdrum about it – less because it was Chelsea’s record 10th consecutive away victory in the Premier League, than because their ability to hammer mediocre sides is not in question. What could end up costing them titles this season is the difficulty they have in breaking down well-organised defences, and West Brom do not have one. "
Official Chelsea FC Website, Andy Jones: "Chelsea recorded a tenth straight Premier League away win to remain on top of the pile thanks to more goals from Nicolas Anelka and a special effort from José Bosingwa."
After suffering from one of those infernal accidental hangovers from double figure pints of Guinness that weren’t intended to be drunk, allied to yet another poxy man cold, I had a feeling of butterflies in the stomach just before settling down to watch this game. Of course it wasn’t pre-match nerves caused by lingering doubts refusing to die after Wednesday’s capitulation to Burnley, but simply the last vestiges of the hangover kicking and screaming its way to oblivion but making sure it left me with a long and very uncomfortable message which I’ll no doubt make a note of but ultimately discard after my second pint next Friday night. No nerves were in play at all unusually and in fact by the end of the first half I felt positively healthy. Just like our goal difference in fact.
Licensed to Kill – The honorary James Bonds
- Jose Bosingwa. A frankly stunning strike out of the blue taking just about anyone watching the game by surprise. Despite Chris Waddle’s insistence that Scott Carson was at fault, there’s no denying that he will rarely ever hit such a sweet shot.
- Nicolas Anelka. I’m so tempted to write the same thing in here that I wrote for the Sunderland game putting yet another flea into the collective ears of the Anelka snipers, whose childlike mewlings have suddenly become very muted. Today he was abso-fucking-lutely fantastic. Popping up all over the pitch, great touches, incisive passing, positive tackling and two lovely well taken goals that weren’t tap–ins (as if that matters). It was no surprise that once he went off to be replaced by an apathetic, disinterested and clearly not match fit Didier Drogba we went off the boil. Who was that Ukrainian bloke again?
- Deco. His best game for some time and again he flitted all over the pitch to aid the cause. Excellent display.
- Branislav Ivanovic. Playing instead of Alex but looked cool and calm with a good level of confidence and capability on and off the ball. We’re very blessed for centre-backs so no surprise Michael Mancienne is at Wolves. Did Avram Grant seek him out? If so then fair play to him for spotting a player with some great potential.
- Frank Lampard and John Terry. Ever reliable and dependable, both players deserve their ‘shaken but not stirred’ Martinis tonight plus the nubile beauty of their choice on their arm as they leave the Casino.
- Ishmael Miller. One of the few plusses for West Brom he terrorised our defenders when he got the ball and ran at them and was the single cause for Terry and Ivanovic getting yellow cards. In a strange way he reminded me of a cross between Drogba (when bothered) and Emile Heskey. Too good for The Albion.
Licensed to Spill – The Johnny Englishs
- West Brom. Plucky. Determined. Arguably unlucky. Limited. Will. Be. Relegated.
- Scott Carson. Once viewed as a future England goalkeeper but steadily driving his own career into terminal decline, possibly started by his unfortunate England appearance against Croatia which put paid to our Euro 2008 hopes. All of our goals were good and well taken but a better keeper might well have stopped at least one of them.
- Salomon Kalou-less. Dreadful for almost all of the game apart from setting up one goal. If we’d have deliberately wanted to give up possession then we could always rely on Kalou-less. His unswerving ability to turn golden chances into complete smelly arse gravy is almost awe inspiring. You seriously have to wonder why no-one has politely told him he’s about as much good as a one-legged man in an arse kicking competition. Apparently if Popeye wants new blood then we’ll have to sell. Well Popeye, Kalou-less is my nomination for the first to go. Poor Scott Sinclair must be thinking like Joe Cole did under Claudio Ranieri when he sent on Juan Sebastian Veron instead of Cole against Monaco. Something along the lines of ‘Just how shit does Kalou have to be before I get my chance?’. Look around the press and broadcast media and ask yourselves this. Why is no-one raving about him? Why is no-one lauding him as a great Chelsea prospect? Because he’s bloody hopeless. Kalou-less is the new Shaun Wright-Phillips.
The Dick Dastardly/Doctor Evil Award for Villainous Incompetency
- Salomon Kalou. There’s just too many nasty things I could say about him.
Player ratings (as discussed at length with my alter-ego, Grocer Jack)
- Carlo Cudicini: Didn’t have much to do but looked nervy on one cross, flapping at the ball like a demented Graham Norton waving to his new boyfriend – 7/10.
- Jose Bosingwa: £16m? A snip. Scored a wonder goal and really looks like the dog’s Jacobs – 8.5/10.
- John Terry: Got a knock which might means missing his England duties again and was fortunate not to give away a free kick for a clumsy challenge on the marauding Miller, but still the best in his position in Europe if not the world – 7.5/10.
- Wayne Bridge: Doesn’t have the attacking instinct of Ashley Cole, but still a very good deputy – 7/10.
- Branislav Ivanovic: Alex who? – 8/10.
- Salomon Kalou-less: Pathetic – 4/10.
- Frank Lampard: Typically Frank and if I have to criticise then he missed a couple of good chances to score today – 8/10.
- John Mikel Obi: Steady performance after the recent traumas against Roma and Burnley. More silver than gold – 7.5/10.
- Deco: If he does this week in and week out then I’ll be happy. Could and possibly should have scored but let his selflessness get the better of him – 8.5/10.
- Florent Malouda: Worked very hard and ran into some great positions on the wing but desperately needs some shooting practice. Or new boots. Or glasses – 7.5/10.
- Nicolas Anelka: A man in form, brimming with confidence. A joy to behold at the moment and shovelling platefuls of humble pie into the mouths of his critics – 9/10.
- Didier Drogba (sub for Anelka): Something’s not quite right here. Is it fitness? Is it the furore over the Burnley incident? Is it attitude? Is he sulking over Anelka’s form? Does he wish he’d left for Inter maybe? Believe me, there is a problem somewhere. Somewhere in his complex machinery there’s a bolt loose – 5/10.
- Michael Ballack (sub for Kalou): Good to see him striding around midfield again – 6/10.
- Paulo Ferreira (sub for Terry): A cameo appearance – 6/10.
- Overall team performance: Another away day walk in the park, but a slightly alarming willingness to throttle back instead of destroying the opposition – 8.5/10.
The Man with the Golden Gun
Deco could have been the Man of the Match but when Anelka is playing such delicious football and scoring goals from chances which Andriy Shevchenko regularly conspired to fumble, then the award goes to our Man with the Golden Boots, Nicolas Anelka. Again.
A good away performance again and despite a slowish start we gradually took control of the game and our superior quality and passing started to wear The Baggies down. They had a slight threat in the impressive Miller, but elsewhere they look like the archetypal yo-yo side despite having some affection for them, after all any team with Frank Skinner and Adrian Chiles as fans can’t be bad, I do think they will be relegated. That is a shame because Tony Mowbray is also a likeable, if dour manager, but he does speak a lot of commonsense without drifting into Managerial Bollocks Talk. After 20 minutes it was looking more and more obvious who would win today and even I, the eternal pessimist was thinking it might be a rout.
A goal difference of plus 28 is deeply impressive and could be the difference at the end of the season. The gratifying sight of Popeye urging the team to go forward at 3-0 is also a welcome new feature. The worries are still there on the defeats we’ve suffered thus far, but for me Liverpool was fated, Roma was a blip and the Carling Cup was an attitude issue rather than any serious defensive frailty. I think we’re defensively blessed and Ivanovic looks like a smart addition with the bonus of being able to play across the back four. Is he our new William Gallas?
At times like this we are a joy to watch and the softly softly approach from Popeye and the club to the press desperately seeking scandal stories is one the big positives after last season. It’s too early to start claiming titles but the clear water between us and Arsenal looks good and Manchester United are where we were last year… chasing… and we all know what pressure was like. Let’s hope we have more to come as players return from injury. Surely the injuries can’t continue at this rate?
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High.