There are many different types of 4-1 wins. Normally, they're comfortable romps, notable only for the otter lack of stress incurred over the course of ninety minutes, a welcome change to most football matches. But sometimes they're not. When there's a chance of the opposition taking points -- or even winning outright -- well into the second half, a 4-1 win brings both the joy of seeing your team score a slew of goals as well as relief that they're not actually going to balls it up.
Needless to say, the victory against Cardiff City was the latter sort.
I'm honestly not really sure what to say about the first half. It seemed as though neither side actually remembered how football worked apart from during set pieces. Chelsea had most of the ball, but went behind thanks to everyone's favourite type of goal conceded: A David Luiz temporary-brain-removal special. The centre back let Ramires' backpass roll right past him, obviously expecting Petr Cech to come out to clear the ball. But Cech wasn't close enough, and instead Jordan Mutch seized upon the opportunity, dinking home to give the visitors a shock 1-0 lead.
Fortunately for the Blues, Cardiff needed a mistake of that magnitude to score. Granted, they came close a little later from a free kick, with Peter Odemwingie producing a glancing header off Peter Wittingham's delivery and forcing Cech into a fine flying stop, but for the most part the Red Bluebirds* were happy to sit back and defend in numbers. And Chelsea weren't having much joy in breaking them down -- the only time they looked very dangerous prior to the equaliser was from corner kicks.
*I don't know what to call them anymore. Any help?
As it turns out, David Luiz's error wasn't the only howler of the half -- David Marshall upstaged him by quite literally handing Chelsea a goal. The goalkeeper failed to spot Samuel Eto'o lurking behind him, and as soon as he started bouncing the ball the Cameroonian nicked it (nb: The laws of the game quite clearly state that the goalkeeper is not to be challenged while bouncing the ball, but whatever). Eto'o duly seized onto possession, quickly feeding Eden Hazard, and after some frankly bizarre play the Belgian was able to scramble in the equaliser.
The early stages of the second half nearly saw Chelsea take the lead outright, with Willian coming within inches of turning in Hazard's low cross, but the match soon reverted to the frustrating game we saw before the break only without the awful errors. Eventually, Mourinho decided to make a change, going once again to a three-man back line and partnering Eto'o with Fernando Torres.
If Mourinho wanted to open the match up, he succeeded spectacular. Switching to the 3-5-2 was a high risk, high reward game, as evidenced by the ease at which Cardiff were able to attack following the switch, but the reward of two points was simply too much to pass off. And just like at Carrow Road, the gamble paid off spectacularly. Chelsea were able to apply some serious pressure on Marshall's goal, eventually earning a corner, and although it was partially cleared Hazard was able to recycle the possession and slip a pass through to Eto'o.
The Blues hadn't registered a goal from a centre forward in the Premier League all season, but that statistic was rendered irrelevant by some lovely play -- the striker skipped inside a desperate challenge and then finished sweetly inside the near post in almost the same movement. 2-1, and the comeback was complete.
However, the match was still rather nervous, and the changes to the Chelsea back line had left it looking rather nervous. Cech had to come to the rescue after a Branislav Ivanovic miscue led to Kim Bo-Kyung getting a chance from an acute angle, and it looked as though we'd have to endure some late-game stress before we could call the points safe.
But Oscar hadn't read the script. With twelve minutes to go, the substitute -- who's been the season's greatest success story to date -- picked up possession after good work from Ramires, and, seeing Steven Caulker back away, turned and blasted a shot in off the underside of Marshall's crossbar to make it 3-1. Four minutes later, Hazard completed the scoring by cutting inside and sending in a powerful-but-saveable shot that Marshall made a mess of, and the rest of the game consisted of blissful relaxation*, made all the more fun by how stressful most of the rest of the match was.
*Mourinho was sent off for something or other in the process, which made things even more fun.