You might have heard the odd Chelsea optimist say “Didier who?” as they strolled back towards Fulham Broadway after securing a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Daniel Sturridge, in his first big test as a Chelsea player, was asked to lead the line in the absence of Drogba, Anelka and Kalou, and was the spearhead in an impressive 5-0 victory over Watford.
Sturridge himself got 2 goals, which will not only raise his confidence, though not sure if he needs it, but the way he took them will have Blues fans hoping their could be worthy relief for the missing Drogba.
The first after just 5 minutes was a real poacher’s goal. After Watford failed to clear a Lampard corner, John Terry volleyed back across goal and Sturridge stabbed home after gambling and surging back into the 6-yard box.
The next 2 goals killed Watford; the way John Eustace managed to turn the ball into his own net was a clear sign that it wasn’t to be the Hornets’ day, and after Zhirkov’s shot deflected off Malouda and wrong footed Scott Loach in goal, manager Malky Mackay must’ve wanted to go home there and then, and the tie was only 22 minutes old.
Sturridge went close again before the break, shooting just wide as the front three of himself, Joe Cole and Florent Malouda gave Chelsea an edge that has been missing in recent weeks. Many Premier League defences would’ve struggled with the vibrancy of the Blues, and it was always a matter of when rather than if we scored again.
Frank Lampard obliged on 64 minutes as the Matthew Harding cried “shoot!”, something his been doing less of lately. And with the way the ball dipped under the helpless Loach’s bar one can only ask why.
Sturridge then completed Watford’s misery with a well taken second; finding space he was picked out by Ashley Cole’s cross, he controlled and finished neatly in 2 touches to polish off a real eye pleasing performance form the young Englishman.
It was the sort of performance the home crowd needed to see after the much-publicised departure of the African players, and rumours of discontent in Florent Malouda’s world. The squad players showed they can fill the boots of Essien and co, and made it a 5 star start to 2010.
And one more little fact to add to the new year cheer; this was the third time Chelsea have beaten Watford in the FA Cup, and on the previous 2 occasions we’ve gone on to lift the trophy.