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Ivanovic inspires stuttering Chelsea


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Chelsea FC 2-0 Blackburn Rovers

Saturday 15 January 2011, the FA Premier League, Stamford Bridge

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Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka scored as Chelsea eased past Blackburn to return to winning ways in the Premier League.

The reigning Premier League champions had previously recorded only a single win in their last nine league matches prior to their clash with Blackburn, a side who have failed to beat the Blues at Stamford Bridge since 2003 - but they were able to build on their impressive 7-0 demolition of Ipswich Town in the FA Cup with a comfortable and dominant display against their Lancastrian opponents thanks to two second half goals that came from set pieces.

It is a result that will offer much comfort to Chelsea supporters considering their team's poor recent form, and after compiling back-to-back victories, there will be murmurings that the Blues are back to their normal attacking incisiveness as well as demonstrating their typical defensive prowess.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti will be happy with the confidence demonstrated by his squad on what was a potentially difficult-looking encounter with Rovers - a side who boast an exceptionally good record at Stamford Bridge. The Italian coach had threatened some of his big-name stars with a place on the bench prior to the game, but somewhat predictably, he chose to play a number of his out-of-sorts squad members in spite of the good form of youngsters Daniel Sturridge and Josh McEachran.

And though Chelsea had found it difficult to create many clear-cut opportunities in the first half, they were desperately unfortunate not to go in to the interval with the lead considering their dominance early on, particularly during the opening exchanges.

It was merely the width of the crossbar that denied the hosts an early opening goal as Ramires poked the ball against the woodwork from close range. After Drogba had laboured in the penalty area following excellent approach play by Nicolas Anelka, the Blues were almost able to capitalise when Ivanovic flicked on the resulting corner to Ramires, to hit his half-volley against the woodwork.

And whilst Petr Cech was forced into two saves - the first a parry from Martin Olsson's speculative drive from distance and then a sharp low save to deny Blackburn forward David Hoilett from opening the scoring - the Blues were consistently looking the more likely to take the lead, and both Drogba and Jose Bosingwa both firing wide, whilst Gael Givet stopped an ailing Drogba from firing home when he should have done better when well-placed in the penalty area.

The Blues closed the half the stronger of the two sides and went agonisingly close on three occasions prior to the half-time whistle. First Anelka curled an effort around the foot of the post, before Lampard headed over from a Bosingwa centre. But the closest they came was through Anelka - who flicked the ball against the crossbar after Drogba had done well to cross the ball into the six yard box.

Anelka then lashed across the face of goal with the first effort of note after the break, but Chelsea were not going to be denied a deserved much longer. A Malouda corner was flicked on by John Terry and Ivanovic was able to tease a low shot over the line and beyond Paul Robinson. It was a deserved opener and a sense of relief flooded about Stamford Bridge. Terry then came close to almost instantaneously doubling the lead when he flicked on a miss-hit Lampard volley, but suddenly the confidence was flowing again.

Moments later Drogba was denied by Robinson after a shocking backpass from Christopher Samba had presented him with an opportunity to steal in and double the lead. The Ivorian had endured a shockingly bad day in front of goal, looking a shadow of his former self, with an apparent lack of self-confidence obviously affecting Chelsea's talismanic forward.

And though he failed to capitalise, Chelsea were still able to deliver a game-clinching second goal when Anelka touched home his second goal in as many matches. The corner that followed Robinson's save from Drogba was met emphatically by Ivanovic, and his goal-bound header was flicked in nonchalantly by Anelka to score his twelfth goal of the season - and only his second strike since November.

With the two-goal lead established, there was a decidedly confident look to the Blues, and they came close to a third goal when Drogba's audacious chip landed on the roof of the net and Lampard brought the best out of his former England international colleague Robinson, who did well to palm the ball away.

There was even time for McEachran and Sturridge to enter the fray in place of the excellent Malouda and Anelka, as the Blues played out the remainder of the game to secure only their second win in ten Premier League matches and move them up to fourth in the table at the expense of Tottenham, who face Manchester United tomorrow.

___________________________________________________________________

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, JT © Cole; Ramires; Essien (McEachran 79), Lampard, Anelka (Kalou 79), Drogba, Malouda (Sturridge 86).

Blackburn (4-2-3-1): Robinson; Salgado, Samba ©, Nelsen, Givet; Dunn (Lowe 23), Pedersen; MB Diouf, Hoilett (Roberts 67), Olsson; Kalinic (Santa Cruz 46).

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 7, RAMIRES

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The reigning Premier League champions had previously recorded only a single win in their last nine league matches prior to their clash with Blackburn

No no no, *recorded their second win in as many games* would've sounded better :whistling:

I kid of course :) - Agree with the MoM and overall report..

The Ivorian had endured a shockingly bad day in front of goal, looking a shadow of his former self, with an apparent lack of self-confidence obviously affecting Chelsea's talismanic forward.

Well put.

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Very good read, good job remembering all the match incidents :D

Tbh I'm not happy with the performance, but glad for the result. Drogba once again was shocking. He only sparked into life once we had the 2 goal lead. We had a lot to thank for re Ivanovic before today and now he's just given us more reasons.

Another great performance from Ramires though, the lad is really making people eat their early season words.

Cech - 6

Bosingwa - 7.5, Ivan - 8.5, JT - 8, Cole - 7

Essien - 6.5

Ramires - 8.5, Lampard - 6.5

Anelka - 6.5, Drogba - 3, Malouda - 7

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