Daily Telegraph, Oliver Brown: "It was an afternoon when each simmering sub-plot of Chelsea’s summer came to a satisfying resolution. Deco answered all doubts about his age and pace by terrorising Portsmouth’s centre-halves, then providing a stunning goal. Scolari delivered on his promise to inject some flair by devising a tactical scheme full of verve and enterprise. Even Frank Lampard was in on the act, dispatching an easy penalty."
The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: "Chelsea fans were thrilled by the football laid before them prior to the interval. The movement in a layered midfield ensured elusiveness and Harry Redknapp’s side must almost have felt haunted by all the ghostly presences. The style was reminiscent of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s previous work with Brazil and Portugal. In this ideas were translated perfectly into the language of the Premier League."
The Times, Martin Samuels: "It was, it has to be said, just like watching Brazil. Not because Luiz Felipe Scolari already has his Chelsea team playing with the joyous expression of the Canarinho, but because he has them set up in the modern way perfected by his countrymen. Scolari’s Chelsea play fast, overlapping full backs, a high, creative midfield line, and have, in John Obi Mikel, a holding midfield player who doubles as a centre half in the style of Gilberto Silva. It puts them quickly on the offensive, but always with the padlock secure at the back and Portsmouth found them unplayable. The scoreline flattered the visiting team, who did not look like scoring, but could have let in three more with better finishing, when Chelsea forwards were left one on one with David James, the England goalkeeper."
The Independent, Sam Wallace: "This is how the Chelsea hierarchy dreamed it when they signed up Scolari: Stamford Bridge bathed in sunshine, the full-backs overlapping like it was the 1970 World Cup final and Deco slamming one in the top corner from 30 yards. It will not be like this every week of course but at least the first game went to plan and, unlike Avram Grant’s empty promises of a bold new attacking team, Scolari does seem to have changed some of the fundamentals that made Chelsea so unlovable in the past."
Official Chelsea FC Website, Andy Jones: "There are 37 games to go but on this evidence, against a side fancied to trouble the top four, the Blues are going to take some stopping."
- Wow. What a day. I was nervous as all hell upon waking this morning – usual for me, it doesn’t matter who we play. Needless to say by half time I was buzzing and had a smile on my face like you wouldn’t believe. It was like watching Brazil. (I promise I’ll never write that again!)
- Our all-round play. Slick, precise, great movement, formidable really… there didn’t seem to be a weak link. But it has to be said that Portsmouth were pretty bad, wretched at times. I was expecting a much tougher game.
- The midfield of John Obi Mikel, Michael Ballack (Florent Malouda), Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Deco. 4-3-3? 4-1-3-2? 4-1-2-2-1? There was so much movement and interchange between the four in front of Mikel that it was difficult to pin down what formation we were actually playing. Whatever it was, Pompey had no answer – quality players like Lassana Diarra and Niko Kranjcar were made to look very ordinary in midfield, and strikers Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe might just as well have stayed on the bench. Deco and Joe Cole in particular were outstanding.
- Full-backs. Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa provided the width and countered our lack of out-and-out wingers. This tactic, a trademark of Luis Felipe Scolari’s, was what allowed our five-man midfield to dominate. Neither Cole nor Bosingwa had a great deal of defending to do, but what little they did they did with aplomb, ably assisted by Mikel.
- Nicolas Anelka. Scored his first Premier League goal since February (1-1 draw against Pompey at Fratton Park). I waxed lyrical about our mercurial French striker when he arrived from Bolton last January, and it appears I was right to do so. He played like the Anelka of old in pre-season and continued in the same vein in this game. He looks hungry again now that he’s playing in his best position.
- Unbeaten home record. The first and last time I mention this until the run is broken. This was our eighth opening day victory in the last nine seasons. Manchester United dropped two points at home to Newcastle United, but they haven’t won their first fixture since 1999.
- Injury to Ballack. He was in great form during his 37 minutes on the pitch, his pass for the opening goal was sublime. Michael Essien missed out altogether, so it looks like Malouda and Shaun Wright-Phillips will get a game or two.
- Petr Cech’s luminous orange strip. No matter which part of the pitch you’re looking at, there’s this orange hue in your peripheral vision!
- Petr Cech: Didn’t have an awful lot to do, made a couple of sharp saves and kept a clean sheet – 7.5/10.
- Jose Bosingwa: Splendid Premier League debut. Solid in defence and outstanding going forward – 8/10.
- Ricardo Carvalho: Still the best – 8/10.
- John Terry: As committed and intense as ever. Brilliant one-two and cross late in the second half – 8/10.
- Ashley Cole: Now that he’s been given free rein to get forward, we’re finally seeing the Arsenal era Cole – 8/10.
- John Obi Mikel: It’s like Claude Makelele never existed – 8/10.
- Michael Ballack: Survived just 37 minutes before succumbing to an ankle injury. Set up the first goal with a lovely through ball for Joe Cole – 7.5/10.
- Joe Cole: Took his goal well and combined with Deco brilliantly – 8.5/10.
- Frank Lampard: Scored the first of what will no doubt be many – 8/10.
- Deco: Awesome. Topped off a brilliant display with a 30-yard strike late on – 9/10.
- Nicolas Anelka: Looks hungry again – 8/10.
- Florent Malouda (sub): There’s hope yet – 7.5/10.
- Shaun Wright-Phillips (sub): Late introduction – 7/10.
- Paulo Ferreira (sub): Solid back up for Bosingwa – 7/10.
Man of the Match
It has to go to Deco. He continued the great form he showed throughout pre-season and made one of the best Premier League debuts of recent times. Honourable mentions for the two Coles and Bosingwa.
Top of the league. Four goals. Beautiful football. Sunny-ish day. And United dropped two points at home. Not a bad start to the season.
Scolari certainly made good on his promise to deliver attacking and entertaining football. This could be one hell of a season.
Wigan away next.
- Reaction: The beautiful game
- Scolari gives Chelsea Brazilian blend
- Stamford Bridge thrilled by art of Deco