After the victory over West Ham in the Carling Cup on Wednesday it was back to Premiership action today and a visit to West Brom. The last time Chelsea played up at The Hawthorns in the Premiership we won 0-3. Today it was odds on that Chelsea would get another decent victory. West Brom had sacked Gary Megson in midweek and it was muted as a great time to play the Baggies. Jose Mourinho made eight changes to the team that beat the Hammers during the week. However, there were only two changes from the team that beat Blackburn in the Premiership last Saturday. In came Paulo Ferreira for Glen Johnson and a fit again Claude Makelele came in for Scott Parker.
West Brom had Frank Burrows in charge for the game replacing the sacked Gary Megson today. Burrows started the game with a 4-4-2 formation with Kanu and Robert Earnshaw up front. Kanu being the scourge of Chelsea fans since that game against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge when we were 0-2 up only for a Kanu hat trick to bury us 2-3. The first half today started as a very low-key affair, the first chance of the game came from West Brom. A fourth minute effort was drilled in by Welsh international Robert Earnshaw but was saved by Petr Cech; it was a very early scare for the Blues almost before the game had got under way. The majority of Chelsea’s attacking play in the first half hour came down the left, with Scimeca, the stand in right-back for the Baggies being given some problems.
Chelsea were a bit lacklustre in the first half, not really testing Russell Hoult in goal. One of the best chances came midway through the first half when a ball from John Terry found Eidur Gudjohnsen who passed to Cole; his volley however was deflected out for a corner. Chelsea pressed and in injury time at the end of the first half were awarded their fourth corner of the half. Frank Lampard stepped up to take the corner it was swung in for JT to head on and from not more than a yard out William Gallas pounced to grab his first goal of the season. It was a great way to end the half, as it seemed as though a stalemate was inevitable.
So, after the fairly dull first half it was an amazing difference in the second half with four goals being scored. Before the half started Jose substituted Joe Cole and Bought on Arjen Robben, he also bought on Ricardo Carvalho for Wayne Bridge. William Gallas moved to left-back in the absence of Bridge and Carvalho slotted in alongside JT. Robben made an immediate impact on the game just after the break, a cross came in from him to the first half scorer William Gallas. Gallas thumped the ball goal bound but a save by Hoult with what seemed a little help from the post kept the ball out and Chelsea earnt a corner. Lampard took the corner it was played out to Robben and his shot just went wide.
In the 52nd minute Chelsea got their second of the game, a perfect Damien Duff cross from the left was met by Eidur Gudjohnsen’s head with Hoult going one way and the ball going the other it was 0-2 Chelsea and Eidur’s fifth goal in three Premiership games. With cries of “Boring Boring Chelsea” from the visiting Chelsea contingent it looked like the three points were in the bag and the fans could settle back and relax. The game then took off; Robinson fouled Makelele to hoots of derision from the home fans a minute later. This was only referee Barry Knight’s fifth yellow card all season.
Three minutes after Eidur Gudjohnsen made it 0-2, West Brom came back into the game. A shot from Kanu was blocked by John Terry, however the ball came out to Zoltan Gera the Hungarian international and he placed the ball past Petr Cech to make it 1-2. For a few moments the home crowd got behind the Baggies as they tried to push for the equaliser. This lasted a very short time as in the 59th minute a mistake by the West Brom goalscorer Gera gifted Frank Lampard the ball, in a swift break, Lamps passed the ball out to Duff in a four on three. With only the keeper to beat Duffer slotted the ball home to make it 1-3. Chelsea were two goals ahead again and any sign of a West Brom comeback had been dampened.
Chelsea were now controlling the game and their passing was exquisite. The first half, all bar one minute had been forgotten and we were breaking through the West Brom defence with ease. Robben and Duff were quite superb. Robben was showing all his skill and along with Duff was quite possibly the man of the match. Then with nine minutes to go, to make up for the missed penalty against West Ham on Wednesday night a blistering 25 yard shot by Frank Lampard settled the game once and for all to make the final score 1-4. This made it eight goals in two Premiership games, four at home to Blackburn last week and four away this week. The so-called ‘boring boring Chelsea’ tag is suddenly becoming ‘scoring scoring Chelsea’. With Arsenal drawing today and Manchester United losing, it puts us on level terms at the top with the Gunners on 26 points, nine points ahead of United. Let’s see what the press make of that.
Next up is a trip to Moscow and the Champions League game against CSKA on Tuesday.
West Brom: Hoult, Scimeca, Gaardsoe, Moore, Robinson, Gera, Johnson, Clement, (Coumas 64) Greening (Dyer 80), Earnshaw (Dobie 56), Kanu. Subs Not Used: Hass, Kuszczak
Chelsea: Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Terry, Gallas, Bridge (Carvalho 46) Smertin, Makelele, Lampard (Tiago 83) Cole (Robben 46) Duff, Gudjohnsen. Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Kezman.
Referee: Barry Knight