Saturday, August 14, 2010



A Didier Drogba hat-trick, Frank Lampard among the goals, a mighty home win and Chelsea on top of the table. No it is not a reposting of the report from the final league game of last season, but happily the first one of this campaign.
Just six minutes of league football was played by Chelsea since the final goal against Wigan back in May and Florent Malouda netting the first against West Brom at the Bridge today.
The dodgy pre-season results were quickly forgotten and although the rest of the play between that Malouda strike and Drogba's first goal just before the interval was a little uninspiring, in the second half the Blues put the ragged Baggies to the sword, Drogba scoring a further two, Lampard opening his account for the season and Malouda wrapping up the match as he began it when he netted his second.
The afternoon had begun with good news with Lampard declared over his injury suffered on duty with England and he was named in the starting line up, as were Petr Cech and Alex whose recoveries came just in time for the 'big kick-off'.

Didier Drogba was also handed a start following his appearance off the bench in the Community Shield.
Paulo Ferreira was rewarded for his pre-season form by retaining the right-back shirt so Branislav Ivanovic dropped to the bench. Salomon Kalou made space for Drogba in the front three with Nicolas Anelka moving wide right.
Before kick-off there was the expected and totally deserved warm reception for Chelsea cup final heroes Roberto Di Matteo and Eddie Newton (their manager in 1997, Ruud Gullit, was an on-pitch guest at half-time to similar applause).
The first shot of the game was from Di Matteo's team - sliced well wide by Morrison. Anelka was the first to let fly for Chelsea - his on target but straight at Carson.
That was on three minutes and less than two minutes later the former England keeper made a double save but still could not prevent Malouda from opening his account for 2010/11.
It was the same Frenchman who initially won a free-kick in a central position when his run was blocked by Ibanez.
Di Matteo's hopes that his side could survive an early storm on the pitch as the rain poured down from above evaporated when Drogba's attempt was pushed out to Mikel and although Carson intervened again, the ball fell to Malouda just two yards out. The chance was unmissable.
Cole, a persistent attacking presence in the early stages, flashed a dangerous ball across the area soon after before Cech made his first save to keep out Dorran's deflected shot.
Bednar had the ball in the net for West Brom on 18 minutes but the Baggies' lone striker was offside when receiving the ball.
The biggest supply of danger in the midway part of the first half was from the two keepers - both escaping when under-hitting clearances. Chelsea were failing to follow up strongly on the good start. With Malouda and Anelka tucked in behind Drogba - the shape looking more Yuletide decoration than genuine 4-3-3 - Stamford Bridge was looking a very congested pitch.
On 34 minutes Cole showed he is far more than just an attacking instrument in a narrow game when he was back with a timely intervention when West Brom threatened a break with Bedner found quickly.
Then the game became the Florent Malouda show for a four-minute period.

First he crashed a shot against the post as the flag was going up - a tight offside call. Then the number 15 was almost the beneficiary of an expertly-executed Lampard back heel but was strongly resisted by Jara's challenge.
Then Drogba was dumped to the turf and this time Lampard stung Carson's hands with a free-kick. It came Malouda's way once more but this time the opening goalscorer headed over.
Right on the stroke of half-time came Chelsea's third free-kick within shooting range. The rotation put Drogba back on strike and it was third time lucky for the Blues as West Brom's wall let Carson down badly by letting the ball straight through, giving the keeper no chance of making it.
The ball flew just inside the right-hand post at the Shed End. Last season's Golden Boot winner was off and running.

There was a spot of good fortune six minutes into the second half when Dorrans' deflected shot dropped a couple of yards wide after Ferreira had been caught in possession. Cech would have struggled had it been on target.
Any chance of West Brom getting back into the game was ended soon after when Drogba netted his second, gobbling up his chance from inside the six-yard box when West Brom missed their chance to clear, a Terry header having been stopped on the line. That made it 3-0.
With our run of good opening day results now certain to continue, Ancelotti began to change his team - Ivanovic coming on for Ferreira shortly after the right-back had collected the game's only booking.
Benyoun would soon follow on to the pitch for his home debut but not before goal number four. A Chelsea hatful without a Lampard goal is always unlikely and this was not to be such an occasion. Lamps took Cole's square pass after Anelka had made an incision and wrong-footed Carson before rolling the ball home.
Drogba completed his hat-trick on 67 minutes when he both tried and received his luck with a shot from 25 yards out - the ball taking a heavy deflection off Tamas on its way into the net.
Now one of the major tasks remaining was to preserve a clean sheet that an all-round solid defensive display deserved. Alex did his bit with a headed deflection on a shot with five minutes remaining, and then substitute Cox shot wide when well placed.
Then on 89 minutes at the other end a France combination ended the day - Malouda taking Anelka's beautifully-judged pass on the right and finishing off the inside of the post.

Chelsea had recorded our biggest top-flight opening day win.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ferreira (Ivanovic 59), Alex, Terry (c), Cole; Essien, Mikel, Lampard (Benayoun 63); Anelka, Drogba (Kalou 69), Malouda.
Scorers Malouda 5, 89, Drogba 45, 55, 67, Lampard 61.
Booked Ferreira 57.
West Brom (4-2-3-1): Carson (c); Jara, Tamas, Ibanez, Cech; Mulumbu, Brunt; Morrison, Dorrans (Cox 67), Thomas (Barnes 83); Bednar (Miller 67).
Referee Mark Clattenburg
Shots on target Chelsea 13 West Brom 5
Corners Chelsea 3 West Brom 1
Fouls Chelsea 13 West Brom 10
Offsides Chelsea 2 West Brom 1

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