If you're counting, that's seven wins from seven pre-season games for Andre Villas-Boas and Chelsea, with a combined score of 18-1. If you're not counting, I don't blame you. Pre-season games aren't really anything to get too excited about. Anyway, Saturday saw Chelsea play in their final pre-season friendly before things get all serious next weekend, the Blues wandering up to Glasgow to take on Rangers.
The Scottish Premier League season has of course already begun, and Rangers had a Champions League qualifying match against Malmo earlier on in the week (they lost), so the hosts fielded a lineup that mostly consisted of players nobody had ever heard of. Chelsea, meanwhile, started something approximating a full strength lineup, albeit one missing Brazilian centre half David Luiz, who is out with what's apparently a minor knee problem.
Fernando Torres got the start ahead of Didier Drogba, flanked by Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge. Ramires managed his first appearance of the pre-season after missing out on Chelsea's tour of Asia thanks to his international duties with Brazil, slotting easily into the spot in the 4-3-3 he now so happily calls home. David Luiz's absence gave compatriot Alex the chance for his first start as well, with Branislav Ivanovic rested. Alex was partnered with John Terry, with Ashley Cole and Paulo Ferreira playing wide.
The defence looked shaky early on, and was quickly breached for the first time under Villas-Boas' stewardship. Rangers were allowed to break down the right flank and in the confusion Ferreira completely lost Nikica Jelavic at the far post, allowing the Croatian hitman to nod home Steven Davis' cross completely unchallenged. Petr Cech had no chance of keeping it out.
Chelsea didn't respond particularly quickly and failed to force Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor into a save until twenty-five minutes had passed. By then, however, the visitors had drawn level - a bobbling ball along the six-yard-line completely eluded the defence and allowed Sturridge to nip in and smash into the roof of the net from close range. It was 1-1, and Chelsea didn't look back.
Sturridge doubled his tally within ten minutes, robbing Lee Wallace on the right side before cutting in and beating McGregor at his near post to bring the score 2-1 Chelsea, and they could have had more in that first half. Torres was making things happen, coming in deep and looking livelier than we've seen him in some time. John Obi Mikel was doing very well in the holding role before an injury forced him off slightly before the break - apparently he'd picked up an ankle problem during training and the painkillers weren't enough to see him through the half.
Mikel's substitution and the Rangers goal were about all that went wrong for the Blues in the opening 45 minutes, and things hardly got worse in the second half. Didier Drogba came in for Torres. Jose Bosingwa appeared in Paulo Ferreira's place, and a brief spell of good play from the hosts came to an end when Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda were introduced.
The latter was the next Chelsea player to find his way onto scoresheet, heading home after Drogba had somewhat fortuitously dug out a pass and then flicked the ball into his path, and Anelka should have joined him after being released into space by Yossi Benayoun. So too should Frank Lampard, who capped a rather dire performance with a penalty miss after Drogba had won a spot kick following a pull-back from Kirk Broadfoot.
Still, 4-1 is hardly any better than 3-1, and Chelsea enjoyed yet another dominating pre-season win. If they can keep that form going into the actual season, the Premier League might not be Manchester United's just yet. It is annoying that they conceded a goal... but we can't have everything, can we?