The Observer, Sachin Nakrani: “The only consolation for Wolves on a sodden day at Stamford Bridge was that they did not emulate their predecessors. The last time the Midlands club were in the Premier League they conceded five goals on each of the two occasions they faced Chelsea. It was only four this time around but that should not disguise the complete and utter domination of Carlo Ancelotti’s side on a day when they once again performed like champions-elect.”
Sunday Telegraph, Gerry Cox: “For most teams, losing the spine of your side through injuries to four international superstars might cause a problem or two. But Chelsea overcame the loss of Didier Drogba, Deco, Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack to rack up a comfortable win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, increasing their lead at the top of the Premiership and setting a new club record of 12 successive home victories.”
Sunday Times, Nick Townsend: “The worrying thing for Chelsea’s rivals is not only did the established luminaries embark on a record-breaking afternoon against Wolves, but Carlo Ancelotti used the opportunity to usher in a propitious future.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “Chelsea achieved our 12th consecutive victory and 10th straight clean sheet at home today as we thumped Wolves 4-0 at Stamford Bridge.”
Well, it seems that the best way to get back at an evil genius is to publicly berate him about selecting you for a losing game report because since then the reports have all been winning ones, and in some style. Just a few short weeks ago I watched the Blackburn culling, and nearly undid all the good doctor’s work with Essien’s 30 yard corker. This time, now back to full health, no stitches to snap and full rotary torso movement restored, I get to sit through a game of so many delights it’s hard to know where to start. So, we’ll try the rubbish journey in London Town with the roads full of the very people who shouldn’t be allowed within five miles of a car seemingly driving aimlessly around in some sort of Doctor Who villain inspired trance, with the sole purpose of blocking The Petersfield Four (me and my mates) from getting to the game. Couple that with Chelsea Bob’s blinding decision to get Big Dave to take a detour through some delightful Surrey countryside with no clue of where we were and no map, our arrival at the café at 14:00 meant no time to chew the Chelsea/football/music/politics fat with that fine gentleman the Good Lord Kaiser Jonny. It was like Stevie Wonder driving under the navigation skills of Roy Orbison (that should please the young ‘uns of this manor).
Still the food was as ever great and we actually got see some pre-match aggro between a group of young, daft, possibly socially relaxed and boisterous Wolves fans and a Chelsea fan who obviously found their declarations of love for Wolves through the medium of song rather beyond the pale. Eventually as said Chelsea fan became more agitated the inevitable figure of Inspector Knacker and his minions moved in. Wolves fans were summarily grouped together and blocked from going any further, and one rather pathetic and rather sad Chelsea fan being shouted at and humiliated by Inspector Knacker whilst pinned to the wall of the main entrance (tube station end) by a horse so big that it would feed a family of four for a month. If the family were French of course. A mildly exciting moment as the rain began to pour down…
OK. My usual glass half empty demeanour meant that I’d predicted a dour 1-0 win against a team I had thought would come and park the charabanc. Seemingly everyone else had predicted, and subsequently put their money where their mouths were, a 3-0 win. This yet again proves the theory I have submitted for my PHD in Footie Guruism, that in general nobody knows anything about football. Nobody… fans, players, coaches, pundits, governing officials, refs, chairmen, chief execs, groundsmen, physios etc… NO-ONE KNOWS A THING ABOUT FOOTBALL. It’s all guesswork when all is said and done.
At this point I could talk tactics, but I won’t because as I keep saying they bore the fucking life out of me. Need a cure for insomnia? Look at some chalkboards. And then run formations though your mind. Better than a general anaesthetic or a night on the Purple Haze (available in all the best Coffee Bars Amsterdam has to offer). Suffice it to say both teams would start with 11 players. We’d made several changes due to the absence of Drogba, Lamps, Ballack and Deco (no loss there then), including starts for Kalou, Joey Cole, Malouda and rather heart-warmingly young Master Mikel Obi. Most of the Wolves players seemed to be suffixed with the word ‘Who?’ I do not intend any offence toward to any visiting Wolves fans.
After four minutes of the game the best chance had fallen to Wolves, and a few fans in my locale were scratching heads and arses as to why we’d not scored within the first 30 seconds. The blind faith of some fans never ceases to amaze and occasionally appall me. Within five minutes though we’d broken up the field and Malouda ran menacingly at the panicking Wolves defence. I guess even the most evangelical of Chelsea fans thought it might go wide or high, but then with a stunning, vicious and bending strike Malouda had got the opener. Hats off sir, a truly marvellous strike that nearly made me think about retracting my earlier Frenchism regarding their penchant for the odd slice of ‘le cheval’. At this point one imagines that any game plan McCarthy’s motley crew had decided on was already starting to burn from the corner as the flame lit by Malouda’s strike started to spread across the pages. Within 20 minutes… yes… 20 minutes we were 3-0 up with the marvellous Essien grabbing a brace. Remember my comments about us not missing Frank? Essien was superb for the whole game under my assumption that he’d slotted into the Frank role at the tip of the Rhinestone… Ruby… Emerald… whatever. We were rampant, charging forward and frankly Wolves were unravelling as the ashes of their game plan smouldered away. We passed, we flicked, we tricked, we shot, we tackled and we passed some more. It was, at times, exhibition stuff. A joy to watch and the type of football you can’t ever tire of. The last five minutes of the half were, and I mean this literally, a stroll in the park.
After a refreshing pint of Chelsea Ale (thanks to Attilio and Tony again) we reconvened for an expected second half goal fest. It never really happened though, the game was won and we continued to control every part of the pitch without trying too hard. It was hard to imagine what Mick McCarthy could possibly have said to his team at half time to lift them. I like to think he walked in the dressing room, shrugged his shoulders and led the team into a few versus of Kumbaya. We did get a goal though to appease us in the Matthew Harding Upper through some fantastic work again by my current favourite player Nic Anelka, a good tee up by Kalou (still displaying his frustrating Kalou-lessness at times though) and a finish from the ever busy Joe Cole. Other chances came and went and Wolves even forced a Gordon Banks moment from Cech, which was roundly applauded by the Matthew Harding crowd.
The other key thing to note was Carlo’s refreshing decision to use the game as a chance for some experience for three of our more promising youngsters. Fabio Borini, Gael Kakuta and Nemanya Matic all got their place on the bench today and all got a reasonable bit of playing time. Yes, we were 4-0 up, and yes Wolves were pretty ragged by now, but it was good to see. Borini looks tricky and fast, Matic tall, strong and skilful. But the real excitement was caused by an impudent, almost arrogantly confident debut for our controversial signing Kakuta. Phew, what a player he looks. Fast, strong, supremely skilful and not scared to go for goal or play impudent tricks and passes. As someone behind me noted wryly ‘Wonder what he’ll be like when his confidence problem disappears?’. Another, albeit rather optimistically, said it was like watching a young Pele. Now I remember being mesmerised by Pele in the 1970 World Cup when he was already universally agreed to be the best player the world had ever seen to that point (and for me to this very day), and with every young Argentinean starlet being hailed as the new Maradona, to compare Kakuta to Pele after a 20 minute spell is stretching things a bit. But if he is a young Pele then we are very very lucky indeed. He was very good and very exciting. The crowd knew it as well as he very nearly introduced himself with a goal from the right hand side and another rasping shot missing narrowly.
A change to the Good, Bad and Ugly sections’ titles, but you get the drift, and after seeing Rod Stewart on Graham Norton this and his wife in the audience I wanted an excuse to include any reference to Penny Lancaster that I could. He is a very lucky man. Who said living a life of shagging, football, music and drinking was bad for you? Mister Stewart seems to have done OK from it. I remember stating this preferred life choice to my teacher when taking my O-Levels. Why did my careers officer at school push me away from that dream?
The Penny Lancaster section
- Florent Malouda – a good game today, looked calm on the ball and presumably watching Anelka for lessons in how to influence games and win friends in the crowd.
- Anelka. World class again.
- The football. Stylish, controlled, exciting, innovative and delightful.
- Liverpool’s draw and Arsenal’s defeat. Need I say more?
- Kakuta and his friends. The future’s bright, the future’s Arnesen’s academy.
- Everyone in the team. Big names missing but some points to be proved today by the understudies and rather successfully.
- John Mikel Obi. Has gone off the boil a bit and suffered injury wise, but today was back to his calm and confident best.
The Jedwards (speaks for itself)
- Wolves fans. Tried singing, failed. Went deathly quiet until a chorus of ‘4-0 and you still don’t sing’ was drowned out by ‘4-0 and you’re going down’ when they went deathly quiet again.
- The blokes behind me and to the right who spent the match talking about building. Duller than chalkboards and formations.
- Manchester United dumping Everton 3-0 to make the eight point gap very short lived.
The Susan Boyle Award (good singer maybe, but come on…)
- My driver, Big Dave and navigator Chelsea Bob. Next time I’ll take the Sat nav.
- Mr Idiot. The only Chelsea fan even remotely bothered by the boisterous Wolverhampton youth choir walking down Fulham Road.
- Petr Cech – 8/10 – Still dodgy and less than commanding on crosses, but a truly fantastic save from Ebanks-Blake’s worryingly free header.
- Juliano Belletti – 7/10 – Nice to know he’s there for us…
- John Terry – 8/10 – Magnificent. Again.
- Alex – 7/10 – A tad ponderous but rarely troubled. Needs games to get back to last season’s sharpness.
- John Mikel Obi – 8/10 – One of our brightest prospects back in the saddle and playing well.
- Ashley Cole – 8.5/10 – Injured was he? Well, it’s just a guess but I’m of the opinion that he’s full recovered. Superb today. The best wing back in the world.
- Joe Cole – 8/10 – All over the pitch, busy, harassing, tackling and irritating the life out of Wolves. Surely he’ll be off to South Africa?
- Salomon Kalou – 7/10 – From good to frustrating. Archetypal Kalou-less.
- Michael Essien – 9/10 – A beast again and revelling in a more forward role.
- Nicolas Anelka – 9/10 – A truly world class player enjoying his football and developing into the support striker role superbly. The best ball player in the league for me.
- Florent Malouda – 8/10 – If only he would play like this more consistently.
- Gael Kakuta (sub for Anelka) – 88/100 – A thrilling debut, crowd pleasing and confident. Fingers crossed he is that good because if he is then we have a potential footballing megastar.
- Nemanja Matic (sub for Malouda) – 84/100 – What’s not too like? To coin a cliché, a great touch for a big man.
- Fabio Borini (sub for Kalou) – 83/100 – Fast, like Owen in his youth and another bright prospect.
- Overall Team Performance – 9/10.
Man of the Match
I love Anelka at the moment. But today belonged the man replacing Lampard at the tip of our iceberg lettuce formation thingy. Michael Essien didn’t quite get the hat-trick today but boy did he deserve one. I just can’t help wondering if we’re missing a trick using him as the holding midfielder when he can inflict this damage in a more forward role.
The kids got a game. The bench-warmers stood up to the plate. We buried yet another team at Stamford Bridge that the Scolari reign might have struggled to beat. The goal difference is now better than Arsenal’s. The detestable Liverpool drew and are now 13 points adrift of us. Arsenal lost unexpectedly. We’re top of the league. We’re top of the league. Top of the league. The league. The top. (Stops before a David Peace type affliction takes over.) I’ve got bacon, egg and sausage baguettes for breakfast tomorrow. I’ll be back on the bike and in the pool again this week. Like an injured player I’m now on the road to full match fitness and life feels a little bit good at the moment. I won’t get too carried away as 48 years on this fine ball of rock and water has taught me to expect an arse biting experience is only ever just around the next corner. But for now get the Cuban out of the humidor, pour the Rioja, sit back and enjoy this little slice of good fortune.
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!
- Reaction: Essien is very important
- Kakuta rises from the ruckus
- Lampard joins rush to ‘placenta healer’
- Guus Hiddink set to return to Chelsea after Russia’s World Cup exit