Chelsea v Blackburn Rovers

The Blue machine suffered a missed gear this last week: a draw at Everton was followed by an early exit from the League Cup at the hands of Charlton. But we all know that a missed gear only slows momentum temporarily; today things are sure to get back up to speed.

Blackburn Rovers will no doubt come to defend and kick lumps out of us. Despite Mark Hughes’ protestations to the contrary, Rovers are a rough and occasionally dirty side; a quick look at their disciplinary record over recent seasons is evidence enough.

Last season we beat Rovers like a gong at the Bridge, winning 4-0. At Ewood Park we were quite literally kicked off the park; a horror tackle by Rovers’ Aaron Mokoena left Arjen Robben with a serious foot injury. The Dutchman had scored the winning goal shortly beforehand.

Everton’s James Beattie claimed this week that his side managed a lucky draw at Goodison last weekend because of their physical approach. The fact that two of the Premiership’s more physical sides — Bolton and Liverpool — have been on the end of heavy defeats by the Blues this season seemed to slip the over-rated forward’s mind. Jose Mourinho’s riposte to his claims was priceless: “James Beattie should be worried because he has been in the club for one year and has scored two goals,”? he said. “He should be worried with that, not what Chelsea are doing.”

If Rovers arrive at the Bridge today with the intention of muscling us out of the game, then they’re probably in for a shock; as John Terry pointed out in midweek, “We can take anyone on in a physical battle and we’ll win and then we’ll get the ball down and play football and we’ll win that as well.”

Team news is that the three players rested for the midweek League Cup game — Claude Makelele, Asier del Horno and William Gallas — will return to the starting eleven, while Ricardo Carvalho has recovered from the concussion he picked up in training last week.

Prediction: Rovers are in a good vein of form at the moment, having won five of their last six in all competitions. Combine that with our minor hiccup in form this week, and you have many believing the ‘blip’ has begun — which is nonsense. We played well against Everton and Charlton and could have won both games (should have won at Everton; Drogba’s goal was disallowed for offside incorrectly in my opinion). Rovers’ much vaunted physical game will not be enough to prevent them losing. 2-0.

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Chelsea 4 – 2 Blackburn Rovers · Update

How Mark Hughes has the gall to say Blackburn aren’t a dirty team is beyond me. The former Chelsea player accused Jose Mourinho of sullying his team’s reputation earlier this week, and said that his side have changed their spots this season. Well, his players picked up another five (5) deserved yellow cards in this match to go with the twenty-three (23) they already have. Add to that the three (3) reds received this season and you can see just how much they’ve changed. Hughes himself was sent from the touchline this afternoon for a rash tackle on a kit bag!

We got off to a flying start, going 2-0 up within fourteen minutes; a Drogba header and a Lampard penalty put Rovers on the back foot and all was well. But within four minutes of Lampard’s penalty Rovers scored one of their own after Ricardo Carvalho ‘brought down’ Khizanishvili in the box; Bellamy converted the spot kick.

Our narrow lead was wiped out just before half-time when a horrible skewed clearance by Cech was headed into the path of Bellamy by Kuqi for the Welshman to nod home his second of the afternoon. A feeling of dread seemed to come over the Bridge.

However the second half saw the lead restored in the 62nd minute when the magnificent Lampard scored his 100th league goal and 60th for the Blues. A great curling free kick from the left sailed into the area — Terry narrowly missed getting his head to the ball — and it crept inside Friedel’s far post. 3-2 and all was well again.

Joe Cole put the game beyond Rovers when his shot from twenty yards out deflected off Khizanishvili (payback for his penalty area theatrics in the first half?) and flew past a stranded Friedel.

Shaken but not stirred.

Blip? What blip?

See Drogba, Lampard and Joe Cole’s goals here (downloadable zip files).

Proper match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Sporting Life; Official Chelsea FC Website; Sunday Times; Independent on Sunday; The Observer; Sunday Telegraph; The Guardian; The Independent; The Times.

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