Chelsea got back to winning ways on Saturday afternoon with a comfortable 3-0 win against Wolves at Stamford Bridge. Goals from John Terry, Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata were enough to sink the visitors and help the Blues make up ground on five of the teams around them.
Under-fire manager Andre Villas-Boas responded to consecutive defeats by bringing in young Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu into the starting eleven at the expense of Frank Lampard. Ashley Cole returned too after missing the midweek defeat in Germany. Wolves, meanwhile, were without two of their key midfielders, Stephen Hunt and Jamie O’Hara, both suspended.
After two consecutive home defeats in the league it was important that Chelsea got off to a strong start to calm nerves around the ground and that is exactly what they did. Ramires made a typically lung-bursting run from deep and brought the very best out of Wayne Hennessey with a stinging drive from twenty yards which the Welshman tipped round the post. From the resulting corner Chelsea did take the lead; Mata swung the ball in and John Terry was on hand to head the ball into the far corner with the aid of a deflection.
A little more than twenty minutes later Chelsea doubled their lead. Wolves had threatened briefly with a couple of headers but a swift counter-attack started by Romeu picked their opponents apart. The Spaniard passed long to Ashley Cole who in turn picked out Raul Meireles. He found the marauding Mata who had too much pace and skill for Ronald Zubar before crossing for Daniel Sturridge for finish confidently from six yards. The in-form English striker nearly made it eight for the season when a Hasselbaink-esque thunderbolt from the edge of the box drew a strong save from Hennessey. The respite was brief for Wolves who couldn’t prevent Chelsea notching a third before the interval. This time it was Ashley Cole who crossed for Mata to sweep home unerringly following excellent work from Didier Drogba. Chelsea’s lead of 3-0 was as comfortable as any had been this season.
Chelsea started the second half strongly and Ramires again found Hennessey on form when his dipping volley was plucked out of the air. Wolves began to assert themselves into the game at this stage though and might have pulled a goal back soon after when Stephen Ward beat David Luiz to get a shot away but it drifted wide. The ensuing five minutes saw the visitors with more possession than at any other time in the match but they couldn’t convert this into anything meaningful and before long it was the Blues back on top. Sturridge beat his man for skill and pace but his dink across the six yard box found no blue arriving much to the frustration of those in the Matthew Harding stand. Sturridge and Mata then both had shots well-saved in quick succession by the overworked Welshman in the Wolves goal.
His opposite number, Petr Cech, was called into action soon after to repel efforts from Matt Jarvis and then more impressively from Ward – these were the only meaningful saves he made all afternoon.
Fernando Torres was introduced for Drogba with fifteen minutes to go and ran at a tiring Wolves backline but couldn’t quite manage an end product on two occasions, first chipping into Hennessey’s grateful arms and then just failing to pick out another substitute, Frank Lampard, when well-placed. John Terry then managed to pick up a booking for timewasting that will rule him out of Tuesday’s game against Liverpool. That Carling Cup Quarter-Final match starts a run of increasingly tricky fixtures which include a difficult lunchtime trip to Newcastle next Saturday followed by crunch home games against Valencia and Manchester City respectively. Whilst the opposition at Stamford Bridge were certainly weaker than the calibre of team about to be faced, it must be hoped that this victory will provide the Blues with the fillip of confidence required to go on to bigger and better things.