WINNING IN THE RAIN

By Darren Mantle
Nov 9th, 2008

Chelsea beat Blackburn 2-0 thanks to a brace from Nicolas Anelka.  In a rainswept first half Chelsea were the much better team.  With the pitch in a very bad condition, puddles were forming and passes along the floor were often failing to reach the intended destination.

Chelsea were again without Drogba and Joe Cole, as well as Michael Ballack and Michael Essien.
The first significant incident of the match fell in under five minutes when Chelsea had a penalty claim dismissed.  Andrew’s back pass fell short and was intercepted by Anelka, who rounded Robinson and before being felled, Robinson, who went feet first into the challenge did enough to off-put Anelka who couldn’t keep his balance.

Where it was a penalty or not is debatable, Anelka looked to go down a little easily, but replays weren’t conclusive of whether there was contact, however as Anelka had to change his footing to avoid the challenge, putting him off balance, had he not tried to avoid the challenge he would have certainly been taken out.

A minute later Chelsea had a free kick about fifteen yards inside the Blackburn Half, Lampard’s ball in was flicked by the head of Anelka from the edge of the box, causing Robinson to tip the shot over the bar.

Anelka had the next best chance of the game, whereby on the twelth minute Jose Bosingwa’s cross superbly picked out the Frenchman, who’se downwards header was too central and was saved by Robinson.  From the resulting corner John Terry’s header as he was going away from goal landed just over the bar .

Mikel could have broken the deadlock on quarter of an hour with a back post header, the header was downwards and couldn’t have been executed any better, but this time Robinson’s legs came to the rescue.

Lampard’s first test for Robinson was in the 21st minute when his low long range shot was turned round the post, the shot bounced a couple of times, once just before being saved.

Villanueva’s 22nd minute left foot curler was Blackburn’s only shot on target in the first half, the ball was controlled, put onto his left foot and curled towards the corner, Cech managed to get a strong right hand on it tipping it around the corner.

On the centre spot Lamps won tackle against Grella, who minutes earlier he’d had a small spat with, and the loose ball fell to Kalou, who’se ball out to the right set up Anelka, with the Frenchman turning inside his shot forcing good save from Robinson.

Lampard again test Robinson in the 33rd minute, with a thunderous swerving shot from outside the area being punched away by the Spurs reject.
 
Finally in the 39th minute our constant attacking paid off, when minutes after firing a free kick into the wall, Alex had another long ranger, this time from open play, whereby Anelka, who was standing on the edge of the penalty box used some quick thinking and adjusted enough to get his thigh to the ball.  The deflection wrong-footed Robinson, and although the ball slowed down greatly England’s number five chose not to even make any attempt to stop the ball before it trickled into the net, instead decided to stand still and appeal to the lino before the ball had even gone in.  Whether he felt it was a handball or offside replays proved irrelevant as it was neither.

Grella came off for the hosts just before half time for Aaron Mokoena.  The weather cleared up a couple of minutes later and in a much drier second half Blackburn fought harder in a much more even second half.  Derbyshire replaced Andrews for Blackburn.

The first chance of the second half came when Morten Gamst Perderson fed a good ball to Robert’s, who’se turn wrong footed Terry, but with Cech coming out Robert’s shot went straight at him.

Chelsea and Anelka had their second in the 67th minute, with Malouda’s ball finding Lampard in space at the edge of the box, who released Anelka, who’se finish was lifted slightly off the ground, beating the outcoming Robinson.  Feint-hearted calls of offside were dismissed as Blackburn’s right back was playing Anelka on.

Kalou then came off for Belletti, after potentially injuring himself trying to keep in an over-hit pass to the byline, which resulted in him falling into the sponsorboards and needing treatment before continuing for a bit.

Lampard then had his third long range test for Robinson, this time freom a free kick which Robinson tipped onto the bar.  Deco had a chip going just high and wide after John Terry couldn’t quick react quick enough to volley in from close range.  Our only other real chance came in the last few minutes when Lamps (yet again) fed the ball through to Anelka, who’se shot this time hit the outcoming Robinson, denying the Frenchman his second hatrick in eight days.
 
Scolari then did his usual humouring Paolo Ferreira, bringing him on for the last minute for a below average Deco.

Overall it was a deserved win, with only one team in it in the first half but a very even second half.  Anelka constantly worked hard to find space and Kalou and Lampard never seemed to have any trouble finding him, the three of them were all excellent attacking today, with Kalou waning a little in the second half, Bosingwa had a solid game it seemed most of our attacks came from the left, meaning he got a lot more involved then Bridge.  Bar Jason Robert’s shot defensively we played well, with their corners and crossed often finding a Chelsea head. 

Cech was reliable throughout, Malouda had a quieter game then he did against Sunderland but his pass to Lampard for the second goal proved very vital.  Belletti unfortunately didn’t get to shoot when he came on.

Jon Obi Mikel also played well, bar one time when he lost his head a bit with Morten Gamst Pederson,.  The Nigerian seemed frustrated at Pedersons constant niggling at him, and before the referee’s whistle he had already stopped like a petulant child, and then decided to square up to MPG, again showing signs that he has some growing up to do.

Blackburn (4-5-1): Robinson; Simpson, Khizanishvili, Nelsen (C), Olsson; Villanueva, Grella (Mokoena 44), Andrews (Derbyshire h-t), Warnock, Gamst Pedersen; Roberts (Fowler 77).

Booked Warnock 62, Simpson 80

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