Friday 24 November 2017

Rampant Blues bring Holloway back to reality


Jason Burt

IAN HOLLOWAY likes an idiom. Or an Ollie-ism. So he will know why this game was allowed to be the football equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

Chelsea scored four. But it could have been 10. Such was the mismatch on show -- for the first half at least.

Holloway found his own way of describing it -- likening it to needing to "sit in that Popemobile (with its bulletproof glass). God help us".

But Blackpool's approach has won friends as well as points this season and the courageous way in which they took the game to Chelsea -- a rarity at Stamford Bridge -- during the second period was remarkable.

Their supporters ran through their repertoire of songs, settling on a chant of "attack, attack, attack", which was meant with some irony. Except their team did just that, with Holloway throwing on strikers rather than defenders.

Chances came, five in all, and went begging, while Petr Cech made one superb save, to add to an alert stop in the first half as Charlie Adam orchestrated Blackpool's forward movement.

"Second half, we drew with Chelsea," Holloway said. "That's true, isn't it?"

For Chelsea there was no John Terry, no Frank Lampard, no Nicolas Anelka.

No matter. With Didier Drogba irrepressible, a creator now even more than an executor, and Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda relentless, they hurtled to a maximum return of 15 points from their opening five fixtures and an astonishing goal difference of plus 20 (already 13 ahead of Manchester United) as they prepare for the season's first real test: Manchester City away on Saturday.

Malouda's first goal -- and his side's second -- was the 100th goal that Chelsea have scored in 2010. And we are still in September.

Jose Mourinho's robotic efficiency has been replaced by Ancelotti's goal machine. That is just what Roman Abramovich ordered, with the manager stating it was a "pleasure" to watch his team perform like this.

But have they had it easy? "Could be," Ancelotti conceded. "We have confidence but we do know that the next (league) game will be different. Manchester City are a top team and it will be an important test."

To have had any chance yesterday, the Seasiders needed to shore things up. No way. They were behind on 72 seconds. The first touch they had was to concede a corner, the second was when goalkeeper Matt Gilks plucked the ball out of the net after Salomon Kalou slammed in Branislav Ivanovic's flick on. Game over in a bewildering blur of blue.


Blackpool's marking was suicidal. A flat back-four was torn apart while, insanely, right-back Neal Eardley neglected to hold his position. Cole had free rein, and by the time Eardley was replaced at half-time, Chelsea had four goals.

The second came with Kalou releasing Drogba down the right and he simply squared for Malouda. Cech tipped away Alex Baptiste's low drive but then it was three when Cole burst into the area, the ball broke to Drogba and he swivelled. His shot struck Ian Evatt, wrong-footed Gilks and landed in the net.

The fourth arrived when Drogba stole possession from Baptiste, dinked the ball over to Kalou -- again exploiting Blackpool's ragged back-line -- and he crossed for Malouda to thump his shot past Gilks. Soon after, the Blackpool 'keeper saved from Drogba, who had outfoxed two defenders.

At that point, no one would have predicted that the scoreline would remain unchanged, but Chelsea took their foot off the gas. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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