Chelsea alleviated some of the pressure being heaped on under-fire manager Andre Villas-Boas by defeating Bolton Wanderers 3-0. Second-half goals from David Luiz, Didier Drogba, and Frank Lampard paced the Blues forward against a Bolton side that could not fund their cutting edge.
After his experimental lineup against Napoli mid-week, Villas-Boas restored Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, and Lampard to the side and, post-match, laughed off speculation that he was ordered to do so by owner Roman Abramovich.
Despite the restored faith in the veteran players, the first half gave little indication that anything had changed in the lacklustre performances of recent weeks. Former Trotter Daniel Sturridge provided the early testy moments for goalkeeper Adam Bogdan. In the 8th minute, Sturridge found a surging Lampard through the middle, but the Englishman was unable get a shot on Bogdan after rounding him wide. Moments later, Sturridge’s curling shot was parried over by Bogdan, after the Chelsea forward managed to cut inside the fullback from the right.
The remainder of the first half remained nervy for the home fans as David Wheater and Tim Ream were able to prevent the Blues from finding the breakthrough, and the half ended with questions about their ability to break down an organized defence.
However, David Luiz gave the home support a sigh of relief just minutes after the break with a wonderful curling shot that found the bottom corner of the net. The center back may have questions about his ability to defend, but questions about his willingness to work and attack have not been questioned. Luiz robbed Bolton of possession in the midfield before embarking in a 30 yard run. When the ball was returned to him just inside the 18-yard box, the Brazilian swiveled and put it away with a finish that a striker would be proud of.
After the goal, Bolton began to open up their attack a bit more, but it left them a bit more open at the back. Drogba nearly doubled the lead after a Chelsea counter, but his effort hit the bar.
Drogba did get his goal to extend the lead from a corner. The Ivorian rose above the Bolton defence to meet Lampard’s corner and headed home to give the Blues a deserved 2-0 lead and his 99th Premier League goal.
Just 10 minutes before full-time, Lampard again left his mark on match by doing what he does best; scoring goals.
The midfielder capped off a good performance by eluding his marker at the back post and volleying home Juan Mata’s cross. That gave Lampard his ninth consecutive season with 10 or more goals.
The Blues superiority was shown by the final shot tallies. Bolton were only able to muster 1 shot on target to the Blues 16.
While a win is a win, sterner tests than Bolton will be upcoming, and the Blues have one or two areas to improve. However, the pressure on the manager will be loosened for now, and the Blues were able finally win a match.