Jose Mourinho shuffled his pack for the Carling Cup match against Championship strugglers Bolton Wanderers. He will be delighted to come through the tie with valuable game time for fringe players and set up an away trip to Shrewsbury, in the next round.
Mourinho made nine changes from Sunday’s encounter with Manchester City and in truth the gulf between the two sides emphasised the Blues strength in depth. In came Cech, the excellent Kurt Zouma, Filipe Luis, Mikel, Ake, Salah, Oscar, world cup winner Schurrle and new boy Loic Remy.
The home side started brightly and Schurrle seemed to be on a one man mission. He could and possibly should have had four by half time. A combination of excellent goal keeping and luck kept the German at bay. Chelsea deservedly took the lead when the travelling defence failed to cope with a corner and Kurt Zouma prodded home from close range. The ex St Etienne man had a very solid debut and was rightly singled out for praise by Steve Holland in the post match press conference.
Chelsea were worried before the match about Bolton’s height advantage and this proved to be the case, just seven minutes after Chelsea took the lead. A floated free kick was met by the head of defender Mills and his accurate header beat Cech at the post. The home side reacted and poured forward in the search of more goals. Bolton held firm and the sides were level at the break.
Chelsea came out with renewed vigour and were rewarded ten minutes after the break, Oscar drove from 25 yards out to beat the otherwise impressive Lonegan. The home side huffed and puffed but could not add to their lead which meant a nervy last five minutes for the Stamford Bridge faithful. Mourinho’s charges held firm and set up an away day at lowly Shrewsbury.
Jose will see this as an opportunity to win another trophy. He has fond memories of the Carling Cup and indeed it was this very trophy that started the current dynasty.
Football sometimes, rightly or wrongly, gets bad press. Whether it’s a player misbehaving, troublesome fans, financial wrong doings or whatever the topical discussion but sometimes we witness the extraordinary. On Sunday, at the home of the Champions, Chelsea led with 5 minutes to go. Blues legend Frank Lampard equalised for City. Time and time again we see a player score against his former club and refuse to celebrate, but not since Denis Law have we seen a player truly upset and a confused soul. The Chelsea fans were quite simply magnificent in their support for ‘our Frank’ and it was a privilege to behold.