Premiership: Chelsea 2 – 1 Charlton Athletic

Match reports

The Observer, Amy Lawrence: “Chelsea confirmed their superiority as Drogba, Lampard and Shevchenko threatened a goalfest. A narrow scoreline it might have been but by half time it was hard to conclude Charlton provided anything more than shooting practice.”

Independent on Sunday, Ronald Atkin: “In the end, whistles of relief greeted a close-run thing for Chelsea which should have been sealed and signed by half-time. Charlton, routinely embarrassed in the first 45 minutes as Chelsea cavorted and flaunted their superiority, overcame the need to rearrange the side because of injury to three players so well that they carried the battle to the champions attractively and impressively.”

Sunday Telegraph, Patrick Barclay: “Seldom in the field of footballing conflict can so much fuss have been made over a substitute. Ashley Cole began on the Chelsea bench because Jose Mourinho preferred to retain Wayne Bridge at left-back, a decision Bridge vindicated with a vibrant hour before giving way – with a healthy measure of bitterness, it appeared – to his England colleague and rival.”

The Times, Russell Kempson: “Michael Ballack strolls through the midfield like an emperor. Head held high, tracking back, thrusting forward, casually transferring the ball from left foot to right. He may be a stranger to the Barclays Premiership, but already he is lording it, the master of all that he surveys.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Paul Mason: “[Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink] finally scored against a former club. He didn’t celebrate. In fact his body language was close to an apology. After a brief moment while they took in what had occurred, large sections of the Chelsea support rose to calmly applaud their former favourite.”

The good

  1. Michael Ballack. Put in a solid performance on his home debut. His header from a Frank Lampard corner led to the opening goal, a Didier Drogba snap-shot (the big Ivorian is a better striker when he does things instinctively) after Charlton’s Brian Hughes blocked on the line. “It was, as the phrase on the back of a Chelsea supporter’s shirt pertinently observed, ‘The Drogs Ballacks’.” – The Times.
  2. Wayne Bridge. Rightly got the nod over Ashley Cole and, apart from a poor clearance which landed at the feet of the Addicks’ Dennis Rommedahl (who skinned both Bridge and Cole on a number of occasions), put in another good showing. He was inevitably substituted for Cole after 62 minutes.
  3. Michael Essien. Another sublime, near faultless performance in the Claude Makelele role. He hasn’t put a foot wrong this season. It’ll be interesting to see whether he keeps his place against Werder Bremen and Liverpool.
  4. The number of goal-scoring opportunities, particularly before the break. Chelsea toyed with Charlton in the first half and there were a hatful of chances to add to Drogba’s early strike; Drogba himself should have scored a hat-trick.
  5. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. His magnanimous reaction after scoring the equaliser was refreshing and he was rightly applauded by the home fans.

The bad

  1. The number of squandered goal-scoring opportunities. The game should have been way beyond the reach of Iain Dowie’s side long before Hasselbaink took advantage of Ricardo Carvalho’s mistake.
  2. Frank Lampard’s shooting. He appears to be lacking confidence. The unjustifiably harsh criticism he’s received in the media of late just might have got to him. Otherwise he had a solid game.

Man of the Match

Michael Essien.

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