Chelsea went up early and had the game put away less than a quarter of an hour after kickoff. With Blackpool on the attack and opening up space behind them, for a while it looked as though the Premier League single game scoring record was under threat. However, despite the score reading 4-0 at half time, the Blues failed to add to their advantage and the game petered out in rather disappointing fashion, ten minute spell of Blackpool dominance aside. All in all, the joy of the first half was rather tempered by the disappointing second, and it has to be said that this was a rather average performance by the Blues.
A 4-0 win being an average result for the team is pretty telling.
The game had barely kicked off before Chelsea went ahead. In fact, I'm not even sure Blackpool had control of the ball at any stage before goalkeeper Matthew Gilks was picking the ball out of the back of the net. Florent Malouda fed Ashley Cole, and the left-back won a corner off Dekel Kainan. Didier Drogba, who was captain for the day with John Terry and Frank Lampard missing, stood over the ball before lashing a cross in towards the near post. Branislav Ivanovic flicked it on, and with Blackpool's defenders all moving towards the initial point of contact Salomon Kalou was presented with the time and space to slot the ball home from five yards. If Blackpool had any hope of winning this match, it was dashed after ninety seconds.
The next goal was not long in coming. A throw in deep in their own half led to Chelsea holding possession in the centre circle, and the goalscorer Kalou laced a ball straight through Blackpool's miserable offside trap to Didier Drogba. Drogba raced free, spotted Malouda's supporting run to his left, then took the goalkeeper out of the equation with a lovely rolled pass straight into the Frenchman's stride. It may have been an easy goal, but Malouda made it look even easier with an exquisite first time finish to essentially secure the points for Chelsea.
At 2-0, the Blues have a habit of easing up a little and letting their opponents into the game. Blackpool were making a pass every thirty seconds in the first 12 minutes, a frankly depressing number, but between Chelsea's second and third they did much better, getting a successful pass away once every sixteen seconds. There were a couple of good chances for the Blues, despite Blackpool working hard - Malouda should have scored when open in the area, Branislav Ivanovic nodded just wide from a corner, and Ashley Cole was inexplicably denied a penalty after being shoved in the area. In the meantime, Cech was forced to make a rather brilliant save on a low long-range drive from Alex Baptiste, getting gloved fingertips to a shot that seemed destined in roll into the net. A couple of Blackpool corners came to nothing, but Chelsea still looked likely to add to their tally.
When the third did come it arrived in rather fortuitous circumstances. Ashley Cole laid off the ball to Didier Drogba, whose shot on the turn looked like it was heading wide before it took a deflection off Ian Evatt's leg and left Gilks wrong-footed. It was rapidly becoming a question of just how many Chelsea would score. Malouda answered with 'at least four' moments after badly muffing a chance, picking up a cross from Kalou and slipping it beautifully past the keeper and in at the far post.
Half time couldn't arrive too soon for the visitors, and when they returned they seemed to be invigorated, and they started pressing Chelsea all over the pitch. The hosts, meanwhile, were having trouble passing, with Paulo Ferreira and Alex particularly guilty of giving the ball away. Ivanovic was forced to clear the ball off the line within minutes after Cech had been nutmegged, and Chelsea were just barely holding onto a clean sheet, relying on Cech to bail them out multiple time in the first ten minutes of the half.
Suddenly, though, Blackpool had exhausted themselves, and it was mostly Chelsea (again) thereafter. Chance after chance was squandered by Kalou and Drogba, both of whom had absolutely miserable second halves. They weren't helped by the referee, who for some reason had decided that the rules change when the home team is up 4-0, letting all sorts of rough-housing go, mostly from Blackpool. Despite being manhandled, the Blues were maintaining possession without a problem, and were exploiting the gaps in the Blackpool lines to repeatedly set the forwards free.
Malouda looked particularly dangerous and with any luck at all might have scored four or five, but a combination of missed shots, great save, and blocked goals would deny the Chelsea of more goals for the rest of the match. Yuri Zhirkov came in midway through the half for the impressive Ramires, but the threat of his left foot more or less failed to materialise. Meanwhile Blackpool weren't looking terribly threatening going forward, allowing Carlo Ancelotti to introduce Jeffrey Bruma, recently recovered from hernia surgery, to the game.
Yossi Benayoun also made a late appearance, but the game was over and most players were clearly not too worried about exerting themselves. With the fixture list so congested at the time of the year, it's hard to blame them. Two minutes of stoppages were added on, which was just time enough for the referee to ignore another clear penalty, this time after Drogba was cut down in the box for no apparent reason. And so ended the game - a reasonable performance from the Blues, a brave display by Blackpool, and a litany of errors from the referee. It may seem churlish to complain when one's team has just won 4-0, but the rules shouldn't change based on the score.
Anyway, five wins out of five, a goal differential of +20, and we're four points clear in the league. A decent day's work for Chelsea.
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