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Champions coast to victory in Bolton


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Bolton Wanderers 0-4 Chelsea

Monday 24 January 2011, the FA Premier League, the Reebok Stadium

chelsea_bolton_1810665c.jpg

Champions Chelsea romped to victory at the Reebok Stadium with a magnificent demolition of Owen Coyle's Bolton Wanders.

The Blues, who have struggled for form domestically of late despite two consecutive victories against Ipswich and Blackburn Rovers, demonstrated that they are not yet out of the Premier League title race with their destruction of the high-flying Trotters - who until yesterday had suffered only a solitary league defeat at home all campaign - giving Carlo Ancelotti's charges an eighth successive win at the Reebok; scoring eighteen goals and recording eight straight clean sheets in the process.

They were set on their way by a magnificent strike from 33 yards by Didier Drogba, the Ivorian lashing beyond Jussi Jasskelainen with a speculative effort, before Florent Malouda put paid to the contest with a second goal on the stroke of half-time. Nicolas Anelka then scored against his former club in Chelsea colours for the third time in three seasons as the Blues threatened a rout of their Lancastrian opponents, before Brazilian Ramires scored his first goal for the club in fine style; crashing home from the edge of the area.

A return of three points is one that not only cuts the club's deficit behind table-toppers Manchester United to seven points, but also puts three points between the Blues and fifth-placed Tottenham, who could only achieve a draw away at Newcastle on Saturday. And with Aston Villa beating Manchester City at Villa Park, the Blues are now within touching different of Roberto Mancini's side, who have now also played a game more than the defending champions.

Ancelotti frustrated many by picking a highly-predictable relatively unchanged line-up from the team that beat Blackburn last week- with only the injured Frank Lampard missing out - but his faith in the startling eleven was rewarded by a highly proficient display from a number of the Blues' line-up, perhaps displayed best by the return to goalscoring form of the side's forward three - with Malouda, Anelka and Drogba all on the score-sheet for the first time together.

But despite the ultimate ease with which Chelsea coasted to a third consecutive victory, it was Bolton who had the better of the opening exchanges, with Johann Elamander and Kevin Davies causing problems for Chelsea's defensive duo of Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry - but against the run of play, it was Chelsea who drew first blood and Bolton were spitting. Having stolen the ball from Gretar Steinsson, Malouda prodded the ball to Drogba, who, thanks to the hesitancy of the Bolton rearguard, arrowed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net with Jaaskelainen grasping at nothing but air.

It was a fitting tribute to the recently departed Nat Lofthouse, one of Bolton's finest ever players, and the goal seemed to galvanise both Chelsea and their loyal away following. Soon chances were becoming more frequent for the Blues, but it was the hosts who were next to state their intentions; Matt Taylor's fine header producing a magnificent save out of Petr Cech as Bolton threatened an equaliser.

That attempt seemed to rouse something close to an atmosphere from the host team's support, but Chelsea doubled their lead as the interval approached. Florent Malouda's low corner was blocked, but the player was able to make his way to the edge of the penalty area and smash a low finish inside the near post from an acute angle in emphatic style to give Ancelotti and his men a degree of comfort thanks to a goal that had changed the entire complexion of the game - Bolton now had to come out and play.

And shortly after the break, that lead was extended as Bolton's early commitment to attack was exploited at the third time of asking by a Chelsea counter-attack. After twice being foiled by stray passes, Anelka was finally able to get his name on the score-sheet with a sublime finish after Essien's marauding run down the left had caused disarray at the back for Bolton.

Shortly after, the hosts finally managed to recreate the sustained pressure they produced early on in the first half, twice forcing saves out of Cech. First an instinctive prod goalwards by Elmander nearly caught out the Czech custodian, who just managed to get enough on the ball to divert it wide, before he then raced out to deny substitute Mark Davies. Moments later he again foiled Elmander though the offside flag had been raised anyway, but again, against the tide of Bolton attacks, Chelsea were able to counter and finish the game off in style.

Last season's trip to the Reebok saw the Blues score one of the great Premier League goals, as Deco, Anelka and Lampard combined beautifully to find Drogba. This season, a goal of similar pedigree from Ramires saw the Brazilian lash the ball into the bottom corner with aplomb, before he was mugged by his team-mates as they celebrated Chelsea's number 7's first goal in Blue.

And that scoreline might have been further extended had referee Chris Foy have seen a blatant foul on Anelka in the box, but with full-time approaching, it took further command of his penalty area by Cech to preserve the clean sheet and maintain a fierce record held by the Czech - in seven visits to the Reebok, he has yet to concede a goal, whilst the Blues keeper has neither tasted defeat against the Trotters in any competition since his move to the club in 2004.

The extension of both Cech and Chelsea's respective records at the Reebok have not only improved their odds in the battle for the title from near-impossible to slight, the champions still require victories home and away against Manchester United before the conclusion of the season if they are to peg back their northern rivals - but in the mean time, a third straight victory will do great things for the Blues' returning confidence.

Don't write us off yet.

___________________________________________________________________

Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Taylor, Muamba (M Davies 62), Holden (Blake 88), Petrov (Rodrigo 62); K Davies ©, Elmander.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry ©, Cole; Ramires, (Kalou 77), Mikel (McEachran 72), Essien; Anelka, Drogba, Malouda.

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 17, JOSÉ BOSINGWA

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Good Report

Ramires was MOTM for me, he is getting better and better with evrey passing week although the whole team were good tonight. If we can beat Sunderland and Liverpool next 2 games we could be dangerous outsiders.

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