Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: "Apres le deluge, Le Sulk. Following a monsoon that almost forced an abandonment, the famously moody Nicolas Anelka struck twice, once unintentionally, once brilliantly, to propel Chelsea back in front of this compelling title race. In setting a Premier League record of nine successive away wins, Chelsea also confirmed the character and technical class in their ranks."
The Guardian, Tim Rich: "On a surface that resembled a fen, [Chelsea] hauled themselves to the summit of the Premier League, level on points with Liverpool but massively ahead on goal difference. Perhaps more significantly in the longer term, Luiz Felipe Scolari celebrated his 60th birthday – an age at which Sir Alex Ferguson believes a manager is close to his peak – eight points clear of Manchester United."
The Independent, Ian Herbert: "Ducks to water best describes what followed from Chelsea, who were back ahead of Liverpool at the top of the pile on goal difference last night, with 10-goal Nicolas Anelka top of the league’s scorers for good measure."
The Times, Martin Samuel: "It was one of those stereotypical “grim oop north” days, met with one of those stereotypically gutsy, efficient Chelsea performances. Rain made the pitch sodden and random, a biting wind made the location fiendishly inhospitable, yet Chelsea dug in, got in front and breezed through the rest of the game as if dozing in a deckchair on a summer day."
Official Chelsea FC Website, Andy Jones: "[Nicolas Anelka] made it six goals in three league games with one in either half at Ewood Park as the Blues earned a deserved three points in the north-west."
- Another three points on our travels. We equalled the Premier League and club record of nine consecutive away wins and are now unbeaten on the road since William Gallas scored for Arsenal at the Emirates in December 2007. The trend of overwhelming mediocre opposition continues.
- First half. We had the freedom of Ewood Park and battered Paul Ince’s team for long spells, despite torrential rain and challenging conditions underfoot. Anelka continued where he left off against Sunderland and tested Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson time and again, as did Frank Lampard. Robinson was in inspired form between the sticks after escaping a red card in the first couple of minutes, but not even he could prevent the opening goal, which deflected off Anelka’s thigh after Jose Bosingwa had tried his luck from long range. It was no more than we deserved in what was a one-sided opening 45 minutes.
- Nicolas Anelka. Two more goals to make it 10 in the Premier League this season and six in the last three games. He worked hard throughout but was at his best in the first half, only the goalkeeping heroics of Robinson denying him a quick-fire hat-trick. Rovers’ resurgence after the break meant a quieter second half, but he popped up in the 68th minute to put the result beyond doubt with a slick finish. More good keeping from Robinson denied him a deserved hat-trick in the dying minutes. Man of the Match.
- Jose Bosingwa and Frank Lampard. Put their disappointing performances against Roma behind them. I’m not sure I can forgive Bosingwa his embarrassing handwear, though.
- The opening 20 minutes or so of the second half. Paul Ince obviously had some strong words with his players at half time because they came out after the break and made life very difficult for us. The introduction of Matt Derbyshire gave Carlos Villanueva more freedom which, combined with a lot more effort to close down the spaces, kept our midfield, particularly John Obi Mikel, busy. Felipe Scolari introduced Juliano Belletti in place of the disappointing Salomon Kalou and minutes later Anelka’s second goal knocked the stuffing out of Rovers. We controlled the final 15 minutes.
- Referee Chris Foy’s decision not to award us a penalty kick in the opening few minutes. It was definitely a penalty and Foy bottled making a big decision so early in the game. Anelka latched on to an under hit backpass from Keith Andrews, Robinson came charging out of his goal, went to ground feet first, caught Anelka’s standing leg and sent him stumbling to the ground. To his credit Anelka tried his best to stay on his feet, which probably saved Robinson from being shown a red card. The former Spurs man went on to have one of his best games in a very long time. Fortunately for Foy it didn’t cost us any points.
- Jose Bosingwa’s choice of handwear. Surgical gloves over the top of woolly gloves. I ask you.
- Petr Cech: Made two outstanding saves, one in each half, and was commanding at corners and crosses. Continues to distribute the ball intelligently – 7.5/10.
- Wayne Bridge: Lots of freedom to get down the left wing in the first half. Good crosses. Did his job well at the back too – 7.5/10.
- John Terry: Was uncharacteristically turned by Jason Roberts on one occasion, but otherwise another solid display in difficult conditions. A great header in the first half narrowly missed the target – 6.5/10.
- Alex: A dependable if at times sluggish performance – 6/10.
- Jose Bosingwa: Questions were asked after the defeat to Roma, but he answered them with another good display of attacking full-back play. Loses a quarter of a mark for his ridiculous handwear – 7.75/10.
- John Obi Mikel: Not as commanding a performance as we have come to expect this season. Seemed to get frustrated as the game progressed and gave away a number of silly free kicks – 6/10.
- Frank Lampard: Started slowly but soon took control of midfield. Robinson denied him a goal on more than one occasion – 8/10.
- Deco: Pretty good in the first half, a bit disappointing in the second. There were times when he wanted too much time on the ball which Blackburn didn’t allow after the break. Was muscled off it several times – 6.5/10.
- Salomon Kalou: An occasional mazy run, but his final ball often disappoints – 6/10.
- Florent Malouda: One misplaced pass aside, another good performance on the left – 7/10.
- Nicolas Anelka: Six goals in three Premier League games says it all. Unlucky to come up against a keeper in good form, otherwise he would have scored his second hat-trick in as many games – 8/10.
- Juliano Belletti (sub): Replaced Kalou with about 25 minutes to go. Steadied the ship – 6/10.
- Paulo Ferreira (sub): Time wasting substitution – 6/10.
Man of the Match
I’m giving it to Nicolas Anelka, who has scored 10 goals in 12 Premier League games this season. Frank Lampard and Jose Bosingwa deserve a mention.
Normal service has been resumed after the disappointing loss to Roma in midweek. This victory returned us to the top of the table on goal difference.
Liverpool’s easy win at home to West Bromwich Albion yesterday keeps the pressure on, while Arsenal proved they can still beat the better teams in the league with a deserved win over Manchester United at the Emirates. We play the Gunners at the Bridge on the 30th of this month. It should be a great game.