The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “[Chelsea] sustained their close pursuit of leaders Manchester United, with the gap now at three points once more. Jose Mourinho even flaunted the depth of his squad, with five changes from the FA Cup semi-final line-up. Shaun Wright-Phillips did not so much slip back into the first XI as dominate it. His pair of goals were the first he had scored in the Premiership for two years.”
The Times, Matt Dickinson: “Mourinho was required to make a few changes last night just to give some players a rest but Shaun Wright-Phillips, the principal beneficiary, produced two superb goals in the first half to justify his promotion. Salomon Kalou and Drogba were also on the scoresheet and, aside from lots of huffing and puffing, West Ham had only the consolation of a fine goal from Carlos Tévez.”
Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “In a game that glittered with breath-taking strikes, seemingly intent on settling April’s goal-of-the-month competition in 90 minutes, Jose Mourinho’s visitors just showed a greater cutting edge. Wright-Phillips plundered two fine goals in the first half, although Carlos Tevez netted a magnificent strike in between, but Chelsea simply went through the gears again after the break and confirmed victory through Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba.”
The Independent, Sam Wallace: “Not even a brick thrown at the window of the Chelsea bus appeared to shake the progress of the team themselves who have, of late, been advancing with all the certainty of an armoured car across a field of daisies. Once again the gap to Manchester United at the top of the table is back down to three points, and once again the question is asked of the Premiership leaders: will their nerve hold with the blue machine rumbling relentlessly behind them?”
Official Chelsea FC Website, Neil Barnett: “[F]or a team dreaming of glory against a team destined for the drop, this was a canter.”
- I’m not going to mention the bleeding obvious tonight because it’s so… bleeding obvious. Clinical, professional and top class.
- Shaun Wright-Phillips. His best game for us ever. Two utterly brilliant goals, some good balls, great ball skills and generally a very confident showing. I’m on the cusp of wanting him to stay. My description of the goals could be no higher: they were Zola-esque.
- John Obi Mikel. I’m labouring this point now I know, but this boy is simply sensational and once again played the Claude Makelele role for the best part of the game better than Makelele has done all season. Even Andy Gray acknowledged his talent tonight.
- Michael Essien. What a player. Is he impossible to remove from the ball when in possession? As close to impossible as is possible in my view. Worth every bloody penny and it must sicken Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool to think of what he could have done for them. Actually that thought frightens the crap out of me.
- Carlos Tevez. Why, I hear you say, are you praising an opposition player again? Because he deserves it. With him West Ham have a slender chance of survival, but a good chance of bouncing straight back should the seemingly inevitable now happen. Without him they are dead and buried. Their best player by several thousand country miles.
- Gary McAllister. A hard player, but consummate professional when playing and Sky’s best pundit without doubt. He expresses well thought out, well balanced unbiased views with eloquence and aplomb. When asked how he would describe in one word our performance tonight he simply replied (as requested) with “Class”. A breath of fresh air.
- Martin “Bloody Knobface Pillock” Tyler. Andy Gray seems determined to undo the damage from the bilge he spoke at the Carling Cup Final and was closer to his old best tonight. The shocker is that whilst the able, interesting, passionate and unbiased Alan Parry and Rob Hawthorne were despatched to Anfield and Ewood Park respectively, this utter knob got the plum game. We score and he can barely mutter “A goal to Chelsea”. Compare his reaction when West Ham scored as he screams “TEEVVVEEEEZZZZZ!” into the microphone. As if that’s not bad enough, he then went on to blame Frank Lampard for the vile hatred and abuse hurled at him from the Pikey Boys all night long. Yeah, that’s right Mr “Oh so righteous” Tyler, West Ham sack his Dad and his Uncle, in piss-poor circumstances for shite reasons and replace them with “Mr Personality” Glenn Roeder, and Frank’s supposed to smile and carry on as normal. Then a shining knight in the form of Chelsea arrive, offer him a huge pile of cash and the chance to become one of the world’s greatest players and he’s supposed to say no to appease a bunch of brain dead dockers? Tyler, you are a cock!
- West Ham. Team and fans. Tevez apart, when we scored the second any spirit, any fight and any desire just drained away. We could and should have scored eight and humiliated them in order to close the goal difference on Manchester United. They are a 3D team: demotivated, dispirited and down! One good thing is Southend look likely to be promoted back to League One next season. This removes the potential police headache for the local derbies against West Ham of where to park all those bloody caravans. I suppose it also stops the potential turf wars between the lucky heather sellers as well. And if anyone thinks I’m being hard, these amoeba-brained circus clowns attacked our team bus with bricks. The Championship is too good for their fans.
- Sky Sports. In the 84th minute a Hapless Hammer invaded the pitch to the usual (yawn) chagrin of cock Tyler. Sky then stubbornly concentrated the camera on the rugged good looks of Tevez for about two minutes, presumably to stop us being offended by the sight of such heinous shenanigans. Listen, Sky, we’re adults! We can see this sort of thing and make up our own mind on the idiot without the heavy hand of your pompous, self-righteous censorship. Do you seriously think fans at home are going to sit there and say to there sons, “That’s the way to behave boy”? The nanny state is alive and well and on your TV.
- Conceding the goal. Petr Cech is the world’s best, but this was a howler of a goal to let in and worthy of the King of Long-Shot-Bollocks-Up, Paul Robinson himself. I’ll treat it as an aberration, Pete, but just don’t let it happen again.
- Petr Cech: Marked down for the howler but had little else to do – 7/10
- Michael Essien: Fantastic. Powerful and immovable when in possession – 8.5/10
- Ricardo Carvalho: Quietly and efficiently marshalled the defence – 8/10
- Wayne Bridge: Started a bit shaky, but once he’d got to grips he was awesome and his cross for goal number two was pure class. Looks a better bet than Ashley Cole in my view – 8/10
- John Terry: Solid display as usual. Showed real desire at the end with a wonderful tackle when he looked like losing the ball – 8/10
- Frank Lampard: Nearly back to his old self. Solid in the tackle and generally good with the passing, let down by a couple of dithery moments. Considering the shite he had to listen to from the Hideous Hammers he kept his composure superbly – 8.5/10
- Didier Drogba: Commanding performance again. Got a bit of a battering at times from Matthew Collins. Got a great goal, but should have had at least two more – 8/10
- Lassana Diarra: A poor first half where he looked exposed and gained a very silly and immature booking for kicking the ball away. I’ll put it down to a bad day at the office – 6/10
- Salomon Kalou : Again looks a very tidy player and got a good “sniffer’s” goal for number three. Still tends to overdo things in my view and needs to learn when to play someone in and when to be a greedy git and take a shot – 8/10
- Shaun Wright-Phillips: His best game yet and a great advert for why we bought him. His two goals were simply sensational – 9/10
- John Obi Mikel: 3C game. Cool, calm, composed. Superb in other words – 8.5/10
- Joe Cole (Sub): Looked tricky again when he came on. Oddly enough he got a standing ovation from the Horrible Hammers. Why his departure was honourable and Frank’s wasn’t is a mystery to me – 7/10
- Michael Ballack (Sub): Didn’t have any time to really do much but looked composed and calm on the ball. The signs that he is going to be a major player were still on show tonight – 7/10
- Paulo Ferreira (Sub): Was he this good? Or was it made to look this good because Diarra was so poor? You decide – 7/10
Man of the Match
For once there was no real contest. It did swing towards Essien at one point for his sheer willingness and ability to hold the ball. However, for his first two Premiership goals taken in stunning style partnered to a battling and dazzling display the man to take the bouquet is… Shaun Wright-Phillips. Well done, young man. Now keep bloody doing it… as a certain Mr. Clough would have said!
Compared to Sunday this was like the team were taking their proverbial pampered poodles for a quick stretch in the park. A well deserved win, done in a style to compare favourably with Manchester United and the airy-fairy boys of Arsenal, whilst also being “economical” in terms of effort put in. At the end the players looked like they’d done nothing more strenuous than climb a flight of stairs. The finishing was clinical, but we could and should have had more to squeeze the goal difference. Let’s hope that doesn’t come into effect. I’d rather lose outright than be done by virtue of goal difference. The quadruple is still on (although the chances are now lessened because I’ve mentioned it) and the pressure is back on Manchester United. Let’s also hope we can do similar on Sunday against a hopefully “already on the beach” Newcastle, because there are two chances of United slipping up against ‘Boro at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. Slim and none. And slim just rode out of town.