Chelsea’s recent love affair with the FA Cup continued at Stamford Bridge this afternoon with a 7-0 mauling of Ipswich Town. This was the FA Cup holders’ thirteenth consecutive win in the competition and the seven goals meant twenty four have been scored in the past seven cup matches. The win sets up a 4th Round trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton at the end of this month.
Chelsea’s starting eleven had a much more youthful look to it than in recent games, with Patrick van Aanholt and Josh McEachran both earning starts. Michael Essien and Ashley Cole made way. Daniel Sturridge also came into the side following his five midweek goals for the reserves and partnered Salamon Kalou and Nicolas Anelka up front. Otherwise the side was unchanged from that which lost at Wolves on Wednesday.
The game started quite slowly with both sides showing evidence of the dire form they have dually been suffering from, with a combined four wins from their past twenty two matches. The Tractor Boys’ keeper, Martin Fulop, was called into action early denying both Anelka and Sturridge, and when the former did beat the Hungarian Troy Brown produced a spectacular sliding clearance off the line. Jason Scotland tested Petr Cech from range but saw his drive beaten away, and Anelka might have done better than find the upper tier of the Shed after some neat interplay.
Chelsea’s first did arrive and it owed much to the work of the Frenchman. Receiving Kalou’s pass he drifted past much of the Ipswich backline and shot at goal. Fulop couldn’t get enough strength behind his save and the ball dribbled towards the empty net. Kalou had continued his run and saw this as the perfect opportunity to net his fiftieth goal for the club from barely a couple of inches out, sliding the ball over the line. Chelsea’s tally doubled immediately when Bosingwa’s cross was delightfully flicked home by Sturridge and for the first time since November 3rd Chelsea held more than a one goal advantage in a game.
With the shackles released the Champions ran riot. Carlos Edwards headed a Lampard free-kick into his own net before the interval and soon after it Anelka fired home his first goal since that game after great work with Kalou. It was five minutes later when Sturridge curled home exquisitely from the edge of the box with his right boot. Lampard had released him.
By this stage Ipswich looked very much the team in crisis; managerless, unable to keep possession, defensively inept. Chelsea meanwhile were playing with the swagger that blew so many teams away at Stamford Bridge in the first eight months of 2010.
With more youngsters Gael Kakuta and Jeffrey Bruma introduced to the action the 38,000 home fans enjoyed a possible glimpse into Chelsea’s future. With twelve minutes remaining those fans where celebrating again when Lampard fired in from the edge of the box when a poor clearance fell in his path. Immediately he added a seventh, tapping home Branislav Ivanovic’s cross after excellent work from McEachran. The midfield trio of Lampard, McEachran and Ramires were superb and dictated the Blues’ play.
An eighth didn’t arrive despite the best efforts of Kakuta and Anelka. This time Fulop was at his best to deny them both in stoppage time. 12 months ago Fulop conceded seven at the Bridge so today’s game took his personal tally to fourteen in two games. The previous year he conceded five.
So Everton await for the Double winners but two games before then, against Blackburn next Saturday and at Bolton the following Monday, will dictate if a corner actually has been turned or if they found a team in Ipswich even more dispirited than themselves. At least the Stamford Bridge faithful could enjoy some goals and a more menacing look to their rampant team.