ANELKA STEERS CHELSEA TOWARDS AWAY RECORD
Chelsea blew West Bromwich Albion away with a flurry of three goals in twelve minutes, two of them netted by Nicolas Anelka. The opener was a fabulous left footed, long range strike by our cavalier right back Jose Bosingwa, back in the side after the loss to Burnley in midweek.
Michael Black and Ashley Cole were able to return to the bench after extended periods out injured, though Petr Cech was sidelined with a thigh injury, replaced by his more than able deputy Carlo Cudicini. Mikel returned, as did Anelka to lead the line.
The home side however, started with purpose. Morrison in space had a crack from 25 yards, but his shot failed to test Cudicini as it flew over the bar. Then, Miller’s cross from the right narrowly evaded Bednar, as West Brom countered having won possession from Lampard.
Carson was tested in the 20th minute for the first time. Malouda raced onto Lampard’s pass, but his well struck shot was straight at the West Brom keeper. Ten minutes later, Carson again denied the Frenchman.
However, when the goal did come, it was out of absolutely nothing. Bosingwa, attacking as usual, jinked inside Greening, before throwing in a step over and then looking up and planting a left footed curler into the top corner, via Carson’s hand and the crossbar. Much has been said of Carson’s suspect positioning, but all credit must go to Bosingwa for his decisiveness and his fantastic technique. How many right backs in the world can do that with their left foot?
The lead was doubled five minutes later and typically, Anelka was the scorer. A poor clearance from the Albion defence allowed Malouda to head the ball forwards, where Anelka raced through, before calmly dinking the ball over the advancing Carson, a la his second goal at Ewood Park last weekend. It was the finish of a man in form, as was his second.
This time though, the architect was Kalou. It was the inconsistent Ivorian’s most notable contribution of a poor match and it sealed the deal for Chelsea before half time. Kalou was at his most direct as he dribbled inside the defender and headed central, before releasing Anelka with an outside of the boot ball. The French striker still had plenty do though, but he did it with ease, slotting the ball between Carson and the near post. Questions will be asked of the keeper’s positioning, but not of the finish’s quality.
With his team three goals in arrears of the visitor’s, Tony Mowbray made a substitution at half time, replacing Bednar with Kim. However, Chelsea came close to scoring again just a few minutes in, though Deco fired over the bar.
Olsson denied Anelka the chance to shoot for his hattrick, before a bad tackle from Bosingwa felled Morrison. He was unable to continue and was replaced by Teixeira. A minute later the new arrival shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Ballack returned to action, replacing Kalou, whilst five minutes later the same could be said before Drogba, on for Anelka. Between these two substitutions, Malouda messed up his lines in front of goal, with others in good positions.
Kim wasted a fantastic chance for West Brom, volleying wide from Paul Robinson’s cross, however it just wasn’t to be for Albion, as Malouda again fluffed his lines, only able to apply a poor header to a Deco free kick late on.
The only blot on Chelsea’s copybook was the late withdrawal of John Terry with a foot injury. He was replaced by the ever popular Paulo Ferreira, who received his mandatory few minutes of play.
The win is Chelsea’s tenth consecutive in the league, drawing us level with Tottenham Hotspur’s all time top flight record. Scolari will hope that the upcoming internationals are kind to his side, as he looks to assemble a full strength squad for the first time in his tenure, in a bid to seal the record on December 6 against Bolton.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cudicini; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry (c) (Ferreira 85) Bridge; Mikel; Kalou (Ballack 67), Deco, Lampard, Malouda; Anelka, (Drogba 73).
West Brom (4-4-2): Carson; Zuiverloon, Miete (Donk 68), Olsson, Robinson; Morrison (Teixeira 58), Valero, Greening (c), Koren; Bednar (Kim h-t), Miller.
Referee Steve Bennett.