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Chelsea find solace in Cup rout


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Chelsea FC 7-0 Ipswich Town

Sunday 9 January 2011, the FA Cup, Stamford Bridge

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Chelsea put their recent Premier League troubles to one side as they began their quest for a third successive FA Cup triumph in stunning style.

The reigning Premier League champions have struggled of late, and another morale-crushing defeat away at bottom-of-the-table Wolverhampton Wanderers looked to have completely ended the Blues' title chances this season considering they now sit nine points behind leaders Manchester United, having also played a game more than their northern rivals.

But the FA Cup has been a competition that has brought the club great success over the past ten years, with three cup victories in the last four seasons underlining the Blues' dominance of the competition. And with Carlo Ancelotti's side looking to win a third straight FA Cup - becoming the first team since 1886 to do so - it was evident that this game was the perfect distraction from the team's faltering league campaign.

And Chelsea did not disappoint. Like last year, where a 5-0 demolition of Watford inspired the run of form which formed the cornerstone of the team's title challenge, the Blues were unwavering and ruthless in their utter domination of a managerless Ipswich Town, who saw head coach Roy Keane fired in the week. A single run does not halt a rot - after all, the Blues; 1-0 win over Bolton at the end of December was proved to be a false dawn.

But this result will give Chelsea great heart, especially considering the nature of the victory. A 7-0 rout is enough to galvanise any team, and the impressive individual performances of youngsters Josh McEachran, Daniel Sturridge, Patrick van Aanholt and substitutes Jeffrey Bruma and Gael Kakuta will certainly be enough to keep the first-team on their toes - particularly the likes of Malouda, Essien and Drogba, who were all forced to watch from the bench.

Funnily, this is not the first time that Chelsea have scored seven goals in a game without their talismanic forward, and with Salomon Kalou and Nicolas Anelka returning to goalscoring form - and an excellent brace from young Sturridge to boot - Chelsea's number 11 will now surely know that, malaria or otherwise, he must absolutely up his game to maintain his place in the team.

Even without a handful of the talent that began the season in such blistering form, Chelsea were reminiscent of their absolute best, with the clever movement and incisive passing that typified their early-season dominance of the Premier League again evident. The performance, if not the result, will give courage to manager Ancelotti ahead of a testing fourth round trip to Everton at the end of the month; a repeat of the 2009 final.

However despite the flowing football that would return during the game, it was not necessarily an instantaneous improvement to the lethargy and lack of creativity that had undermined the team in recent weeks. Whilst the Blues were ahead on possession and predictably bossing the match territorially, Ipswich were more than holding their own and forced Chelsea keeper Petr Cech into a good save when Jason Scotland launched a ferocious effort from distance.

That particular warning shot was duly noted by Ancelotti's charges, who began to up the ante as half-time approached. Firstly, Nicolas Anelka - looking rejuvenated in the central striker's role - saw an effort hacked off the line before he bent a curling effort wide of the far upright. But the Blues were not to be denied the lead their pressure perhaps warranted, and a deserved opening goal was netted by Kalou's poacher's instinct, turning a goalbound effort from Anelka into the net.

The shot was dribbling in after Martin Fulop had only managed to slow the ball down with a slight touch, but Kalou was desperate for his half-century of Chelsea goals and the resulting breakthrough did little more than open the floodgates - the football was still not quite right, with the Blues' dominance in pressure not yet accounted for. However, Chelsea had drawn first blood and Ipswich were spitting, and it took merely another brace of efforts to register an impressive half-time lead that saw the confidence flowing once again.

José Bosingwa had scored an own-goal in mid-week and was determined to make up for his error, and he certainly played his part in the romp; setting up Daniel Sturridge with an intelligent low cross that Sturridge flicked in with equal gusto. It was a goal that had shades of Drogba in his early-season prime, and the watching Ivorian was clearly impressed by his understudy's quality.

There was time for Ipswich to offer a helping hand as Carlos Edwards diverted a whipped Lampard free-kick beyond his own goalkeeper with a glance off his forehead, giving the Blues a handsome lead that half-time that their pressure had deserved. Ipswich were contributing to their own downfall by sitting incredibly deep and inviting a lot of pressure, and in truth they were looking a side who were even shorter on confidence than their West London opponents.

And their mood will not have been improved after a second half battering which saw them ship another four goals; each of resounding quality.

Whilst teenage starlet Josh McEachran was impressing in his deep midfield role alongside the tenacious and energetic Ramires, Frank Lampard was beginning to come into his own. A goal seven days ago had improved the midfielder's standing following three months out with persistent injury, and suddenly the England midfielder's confidence was brimming as he masterminded a total devastation of a beleaguered Ipswich side.

He began that particularfeat with a pivotal role in Chelsea's fourth as Kalou and Anelka combined for the latter to superbly crash the ball across Fulop and into the corner of the net. Daniel Sturridge then scored the best of the seven with a delicious curling shot from 16 yards to truly underline Chelsea's dominance, completing a deserved brace from the hard-working forward. Sturridge had scored five of Chelsea's seven goals in a 7-3 rout of Tottenham's reserves in midweek and his confidence was no doubt cruising as he went in search of the match ball.

But any hopes he had of stealing the show were dashed when Lampard seized control. First he lashed in from 20 yards from Gael Kakuta's corner after it deflected his way, before he scored the seventh through sheer experience as his tactical nous again saw him make a trademark run and finish beyond Fulop for his fourth goal of an injury-stricken season after Ivanovic had done well to turn in the box and cross for his team-mate. Dare I say it, it looked as if our Frank was back.

Ultimately, Chelsea were a class apart, and that sort of performance against any opponent would surely had seen the Blues to victory. Feet must remain grounded, however, as a single win will not end Chelsea's league problems. Nevertheless, the confidence granted by such a morale-boosting win will no doubt be welcomed by Ancelotti and his men, who will now look to use this superb cup result as the base of greater triumphs to come.

A potential return to form continues next weekend with a home Premier League fixture with Blackburn, before trips to Bolton nine days later and then Everton away at the end of the month complete a tricky-looking-but-winnable hat-trick of fixtures coming up next for the Blues. Three wins out of three and we'll all be smiling.

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Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry ©; van Aanholt (Bruma 70); Ramires, McEachran, Lampard; Kalou (Kakuta 55), Anelka, Sturridge

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Fulop; Brown, McAuley, O'Dea, Kennedy; Edwards, Norris ©, Healy, Peters; Scotland (Murray 49), Wickham (Priskin 63).

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 8, Frank Lampard

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