Chelsea bounced back from losing their home record to Liverpool, by thrashing Roy Keane’s hapless Sunderland 5-0 at Stamford Bridge, our biggest win at home under Felipe Scolari. Nicolas Anelka, polarising opinion of late, netted a hattrick, whilst Alex and an obligatory Frank Lampard goal completed the rout. Ashley Cole however, was lost to injury in the first half, though the mood was tempered by the successful return of Didier Drogba.
Gloves and “long sleeves” were de rigeur as the rain poured down at Stamford Bridge, though in the case of Bosingwa et al., they looked more like scuba divers than footballers. One of the key exponents of the “scuba diver look” was the Portuguese midfielder Deco, and it was his effort that nearly broke the deadlock. A sweeping cross-field pass from one short sleeved player to another, Lampard to Joe Cole, pulled the Sunderland defence apart and when Cole picked out Deco, his 20 yard shot rattled against the crossbar before being cleared.
Chelsea weren’t to be denied though, as they continued to pour forward towards the Sunderland goal. In the 26th minute, Alex picked up possession on the halfway line, striding towards goal. His ball wide found Joe Cole, whose left footed shot was saved by Martin Fulop, only to drop fortuitously to Alex a yard out. He made no mistake, scoring Chelsea’s 1000th goal of the Premier League era.
Chelsea’s lead doubled just three minutes later. Lampard’s corner was cleared, however Terry won the ball back. Deco’s incisive pass found Lampard breaking towards the by-line, where he crossed to find Alex again. This time though, the Brazilian scuffed his shot goalward, Anelka playing predator in helping the ball over the line, seemingly from an offside position. The referee and his assistants had no objections as the Frenchman celebrated – a sign of things to come.
Scolari was forced to make an early substitution however, as Ashley Cole limped off to be replaced by his understudy Wayne Bridge. The change didn’t make an ounce of difference, as the Blues sliced open Sunderland to make it 3-0 just before half time. Joe Cole picked out Lampard on the edge of the box, whose one touch found Malouda. He only needed one touch to pick out Anelka, who tapped home from six yards.
Roy Keane’s remonstrations landed him in trouble with referee Martin Atkinson, who banished him to the stands for the second half. The Sunderland manager did make a double change at the break though, Henderson and Diouf replacing Tainio and Waghorn.
Just six minutes into the second half however, Chelsea were 4-0 up. Joe Cole easily beat McCartney, making his way to the byline and crossing for Frank Lampard to score his third headed goal of the season, easily nodding in Cole’s fantastically stood up cross. The goal was his 100th in league football, his first coming way back in 1995 for Swansea, on loan from West Ham. There was certainly no way back for Sunderland, and the fifth came just two minutes later.
Deco’s neat touch brought Terry forward into space, the Chelsea skipper making his 350th Chelsea start. He played an imperious ball wide to Malouda on the left, whose cut back found Anelka. The Frenchman’s shot was saved by Fulop, but unluckily for the goalkeeper looped over his body and across the line, Anelka registering his first Chelsea hattrick.
Chelsea eased off, with the midweek trip to Rome in mind, Scolari introducing Drogba in place of Joe Cole. For a period of time he was on the pitch alongside Anelka, before the striker made way for Mineiro, making his Chelsea debut. Bridge and Drogba then combined to set up a headed chance for Malouda, which was saved by Fulop, as the Blues played out the remainder of the match in relative comfort.
The Blues travel to Rome in midweek, having firmly erased memories of the defeat by Liverpool, however the injury list continues to mount with Ashley Cole set to be out for a few weeks. Wayne Bridge is a more than able replacement though, and the Blues will travel with their confidence boosted by this crushing victory.