Chelsea got their season back on track away at out of sorts Bolton Wanderers on the evening of Monday 24th January 2011, as they recorded a 4-0 Premier League victory.
Both sides came into this match following a spell of poor form. Chelsea’s had caused them to slide from the summit of the table in December, to a dangerous position where Champions League qualification seemed questionable. Bolton had followed early season promise with turn-of-the-year mediocrity and, prior to this game, appeared to be sliding towards the wrong end of the table, when Europe was looking all but certain but a month ago.
But it was to be Chelsea who used this match as a catalyst to record an important win, as goals from Didier Drogba (11), Malouda (41), Anelka (56) and Ramires (74) secured the three points that saw them move three points clear of Tottenham, who sit fifth, and gain ground on Manchester City, who lost on Saturday. More importantly, for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, they did not lose any more ground on Manchester United and Arsenal, who are first and second in the league following both sides picking up good victories this weekend.
With United having won 5-0 and Arsenal 3-0, Chelsea’s 4-0 result against Bolton at least makes those teams sit up and take notice of them once more.
For Bolton fans, they can take a little hope from the fact that they were not resoundingly outplayed last night: their team was only just shaded in terms of possession and shot count by Chelsea, but, where it matters most, in front of goal, Chelsea were the more clinical.
Chelsea have played better this season and got nothing. Bolton will play worse and get a point. But such is football, and the ability to get a goals return from few opportunities is an important ingredient, which those with designs on any title must secure. Its no coincidence that Drogba’s return to goalscoring form coincides with Chelsea picking up their best result in weeks, either: he is key to their title hopes, one feels.
Bolton will get a better return against a team with a less able starting XI: they simply need to put this result from their minds. Chelsea just need to keep winning.