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Blues bounce back to beat Bolton


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Chelsea 3

Bolton 0

Andre Villas-Boas saw his Chelsea side bounce back from the bitter disappointment of Tuesday night's horror-show in Naples to thump relegation-threatened Bolton at Stamford Bridge.

In what has been a season with far more downs than ups thus far, this comfortable victory will offer great encouragement to Villas-Boas and the supporters alike, who were treated to a second half that boasted landmark goals for Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, as well as another beauty to add to David Luiz' rapidly-expanding list of goals in front of the Matthew Harding End. It was a display featuring confident and composed play, and though a goalless first forty-five minutes may have discouraged some supporters, class eventually prevailed and it is the Blues' young Portuguese coach who will be smiling this evening - especially after news filtered through that Champions League-chasing Newcastle fell foul to a two-goal comeback from Wolves.

QPR also lost. That's always welcome news.

For Didier Drogba, it was his 151st Chelsea goal - and his 99th in the Premier League - that added to Luiz' 48th-minute opener, whilst Lampard took his career tally of goals against Bolton to an impressive twelve as he wrote himself into the history books with a composed side-footed volley from close range; a goal that sees him become the first player in Premier League history to net ten or more league goals in nine consecutive seasons.

Those achievements are but two of the plaudits earned by the Chelsea team for this professional performance. It was a fully-deserved win against an admittedly poor Bolton Wanderers side, but history dictates that games between the Blues and the Trotters at Stamford Bridge are traditionally tight, with the last three fixtures having been won by just a single goal.

One of those games saw Bolton come from 4-0 down to very nearly complete the most remarkable of come-backs when Gary Cahill missed a late chance to see the game finish 4-3, but the Sheffield-born defender is now plying his trade amongst more refined company, and it would be no disrespect to Bolton to say they offered incredibly little in what was a one-sided match dominated by the host's marauding midfield triumvirate of Lampard, Ramires, and the slowly-improving Michael Essien.

But for Arsenal's on loan winger Ryo Miyaichi, who was a consistent thorn in the side of Branislav Ivanovic, the visitors cut a very sorry shadow of a team that ended last season in such impressive fashion. Bolton have been hit hard by the fall-out of injuries sustained by key players Stuart Holden and Chung Yong-Lee, while the sale of Johan Elmander and return to Stamford Bridge of Daniel Sturridge has left Owen Coyle short on both striking quality and substance in the midfield - and a weak display here will have done very little to quieten down fears of Bolton falling out of the top division after a decade-long tenure.

Whilst troubles for Bolton and their young manager continue, a similar situation has developed at Chelsea Football Club. Expect the newspapers to focus on Fernando Torres' continued goal-drought (despite being on for a mere 13 minutes, in a period where the game was already convincingly wrapped-up), and how those three second-half strikes may well have saved Villas-Boas from the chop. The reality is, that whilst the propagandist ideals of the media desperately try in vain to stir the embers of a negativity fire extinguished by a fluid second half display, Chelsea were good value for a long-overdue victory. The papers (and some fans) will say it was 'only Bolton' - but any win against anyone is a welcome one at present.

Chelsea began this game with purpose, clearly having received a rocket up the arse after three defensive clangers had resulted in an average Napoli side almost killing off the tie in the San Paolo on Tuesday evening. Whilst Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge tested Adam Bogdan's (pretty terrible) handling with tame efforts from distance, it was the application in the final third that was undoing a lot of good play from the home side. Incisive passing and fluid movement was a feature of this performance, but it was not being repaid in kind in the Bolton defensive area. Despite winning a multitude of ultimately fruitless corners, there was little else to show for the possessional and territorial dominance that Chelsea were enjoying.

Truly exerting the advantage and converting it into goals was proving a tough task, and the best the home side could conjure was a curling effort from Sturridge that Bogdan, to his credit, did very well to turn wide of both the post and the onrushing Juan Mata, who, by his exceptional standards, was enduring a difficult game against a stubborn Bolton side.

Yet the resilience that the away team were showing prior to the interval seemed to instantly dissipate as the Blues got the second half underway, and it took only three minutes for Drogba to fashion an opening for Luiz to bend home another wonderful goal in front of the Matthew Harding End. Working the ball well down the left, Drogba fed Luiz, who skipped around his marker in a fashion his Ivorian team-mate would have been proud of, before caressing the ball beyond Bogdan and into the corner for his second goal in the league this season. Such composure should not come as a surprise, however - Luiz is Brazilian, afterall.

It was a fantastic start to the second half, and just what Villas-Boas will have wanted, although a minute later Bolton were almost level when Reo-Coker fired wide from the edge of the penalty area. The chance had come out of nothing as the midfielder idled forward, benefited from a lucky ricochet and then fired about a foot wide of Cech's right-hand post. That was to be the closest Bolton would come as the life was sucked out of them with Didier Drogba's goal on the hour mark, as he rose unchallenged to nod home a belter of a Frank Lampard corner. Game, set and match, and suddenly things were looking considerably rosier in the Chelsea garden.

Sandwiched in-between those two goals for the Blues were further chances; firstly for Luiz who saw a header instinctively flicked off the line. It was a brilliant effort by the Brazilian, who rose above a cluster of players to seemingly nod home but for a superb reflex block on the line by Miyaichi, who just made contact on the ball with his studs to deflect it wide via the post. Shortly after, Drogba saw his cultured effort kiss the crossbar as he looked to finish from the angle, but his grievance would only be temporary as he sealed the match within minutes.

The time had come for Chelsea to express themselves, and after Ivanovic and Luiz had done enough to prevent each other from scoring a sure third, Lampard did eventually provide the goods as he volleyed home a sumptuous delivery from deep by Mata. It was a fitting way to finish off the Trotters by a man who has a goalscoring affinity with this particular fixture. It was a cracking finish from Lampard, who, despite his age, continues to defy critics and disgruntled fans alike with his golden touch - his 12th goal against Bolton was also his 12th of the season; no mean feat for a man who has contested both form and fitness problems this campaign.

Villas-Boas allowed himself a brief smile on more than one occasion, and rightly so. Winning is the greatest relief to any on- or off-field problem at a football club, and for a team desperately short on victories this season, these three-point haul is a welcome one. An international break now materialises to steal away any sense of forward momentum, but this will offer the likes of the manager and his seasoned players the chance to regroup and redouble their efforts. Winnable fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Birmingham are next on the agenda, and sequencing together a series of wins together is now the natural progression on the road to securing Champions League football.

Today, things worked. If Villas-Boas has found a winning formula it is long overdue, but now is the time for the fans to back this team, for we are needed now more than ever.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Ramires (Mikel 87), Essien, Lampard ©; Sturridge (Kalou 79), Drogba (Torres 75), Mata.

Bolton (4-3-3): Bogdann; Wheater, Steinsson, Ricketts, Ream; Reo-Coker ©, Pratley, Muamba; Tuncay (Eagles 74), Ngog (Sordell 65), Miyachi.

The TalkChelsea Man of the Match is Chelsea's number 4 - DAVID LUIZ

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It's because I have more enthusiasm to be creative :D

The reality is, that whilst the propagandist ideals of the media desperately try in vain to stir the embers of a negativity fire extinguished by a fluid second half display, Chelsea were good value for a long-overdue victory. The papers (and some fans) will say it was 'only Bolton' - but any win against anyone is a welcome one at present.

Best sentence or two I've written for a while.

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