Premiership: Chelsea 4 – 0 Watford

Match reports

Sunday Telegraph, Roy Collins: “For once without a hint of controversy or histrionics, Chelsea calmly set their bid for a third successive Premiership title back on course. If their title rivals, whom some might dismiss as wishful thinkers, were hoping that last week’s defeat at Tottenham might be the start of a full-blown crisis, they will have been sadly disillusioned by this ruthless return to normal service.”

Independent on Sunday, Steve Tongue: “Watford’s Adrian Boothroyd had been looking forward to pitting his wits against Jose Mourinho, but after all the shenanighans of last Sunday in the capital, the day’s football after the Lord Mayor’s Show was mercifully not about managers or officials, but players. Predictably, Chelsea’s were infinitely better than those of the Premiership newcomers, who found their direct style comfortably countered and were pushed back into the bottom three by a second hat-trick of the season from an inspired Didier Drogba.”

The Observer, Amy Lawrence: “Drogba was outstanding, not only in the manner in which he demolished Watford and plundered the goals that took his season’s tally to 14. His all-round play was also to be admired. He was a conspicuous influence defending his own team’s penalty area and, as Aidy Boothroyd pointed out, what a sight it was to see him chasing and harassing the opposition back four in the 93rd minute when he had already made sure the match ball was his for keeps. All of Chelsea’s players were out of reach for sorry Watford, but they must have felt that Drogba was from another planet.”

Sunday Times, Joe Lovejoy: “Jose Mourinho hailed Didier Drogba as “the best striker in Europe at the moment” after he rattled in a hat-trick as Chelsea got their defence of the Premiership title back on track with an emphatic victory over poor, homespun Watford.

Drogba took his tally for the season to 14, moving Mourinho to describe him as “unstoppable” and “improved in every aspect”. After last week’s fractious defeat at Tottenham, normal service was resumed back at Stamford Bridge, where the champions have never lost a league fixture under Mourinho ”” a run that now stretches back 50 matches.

Drogba could easily have had five, such was his dominance of Watford’s bemused, belittled defence.”

The Guardian, David Lacey: “Chelsea’s satisfaction with Drogba’s form has been complemented by the growing strength of his partnership with Andriy Shevchenko. True, this double act has been brought together at a cost of around £55m, yet money cannot buy understanding and the moment early in the second half when Drogba set up the former £31m Milan striker to score Chelsea’s third goal was priceless in the serious sense of the word.”

The good

  1. Didier Drogba. Seriously, I’ve run out of superlatives to describe the Ivorian. Took his goal tally to 14 (14! In 19 appearances. At this rate, he could threaten Jimmy Greaves’ record of 41 League goals in a season) with his second hat-trick of the campaign, and put in an all-round outstanding performance: scored goals, made goals, and defended goal. The Premiership’s leading scorer, the Champions League’s leading scorer. The best striker in Europe at the present time? Probably.
  2. Andriy Shevchenko. Celebrated the birth of his second child with a goal, his fifth of the season. The Ukranian’s movement and link-up play was a joy to behold, which leads to…
  3. The pairing of Drogba and Shevchenko. Are we seeing the birth of another great Chelsea strike partnership? Not since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen paired up so devastatingly in 2001-02 has there been this much potential. It’s far too early to make comparisons, but the signs look promising.
  4. Fifty League games unbeaten at Stamford Bridge. Only 14 to go to beat Liverpool’s record at Anfield of 63, set between January 1978 and January 1981.
  5. Geremi. Kept his place at right-back after impressing during the demolition of Aston Villa in midweek. Paulo Ferreira and Khalid Boulahrouz’s comedy show at White Hart Lane last weekend necessitated a change of personnel and the Nigerian Cameroonian hasn’t disappointed, albeit against poor opposition. He set up two of Drogba’s goals, and gave the 4-4-2 formation with its narrow midfield some much needed width.
  6. The full-backs. Provided the width going forward. It’s a formation that has looked more effective with each passing game. Ashley Cole was back to his best bombing up the left wing; only an outstanding save by Ben Foster prevented him from scoring his first goal for the Blues.

The bad

  1. The 4-4-2 formation with its attacking full-backs is keeping one of England’s best creative midfielders out of the team, not to mention Shaun Wright-Phillips. Joe Cole must rue the moment when he injured a knee after just 10 minutes of his first pre-season appearance, and wonder what he has to do to get back in the side. Hopefully he’ll get more than brief cameos in upcoming games, but quite who he’s going to replace is another matter. There’s always England on Wednesday.
  2. Michael Ballack’s propensity for losing the plot. The German is easily offended and has rushes of blood to the head, his sending off during the win over Liverpool back in September being a classic case in point. On this occasion he took out Jordan Stewart with the ball long gone and from the resultant free-kick, Danny Shittu nearly gave Watford a lifeline. Ballack’s behaviour is likely to cost us before the season’s over.

Man of the Match

Didier Drogba. Who else?

Final thoughts

The season is building up to the first showdown with Manchester United in just under a fortnight’s time. The games against United could decide the destination of the title. There’s the small matter of disposing of West Ham before then though.

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