In the face of criticism and adversity, real winners emerge, and that is exactly what Frank Lampard has done this week, responding to being dropped with four goals in two games, and a man of the match performance at a stadium that has served both himself and his club so well in the past.
Both Chelsea fans and players have a special affection towards the Reebok stadium, having sealed two titles there, and through Lampard goals ironically enough. As the fates or rather the fixture list allowed, the game in one of their most successful grounds came at an opportune time, with Chelsea and Lampard needing solid performances to answer their critics.
The only player from a Chelsea perspective who may be a little disappointed today is Petr Cech, who conceded for the first time ever in the Reebok, yet overall it was as good a performance from Chelsea as it was bad from Bolton, who having lost Jussi Jaaskalinen before the match looked in sixes and sevens at the back, with the reserve keeper making error after error.
It was also a good day at the office for former Bolton loanee Daniel Sturridge, who scored twice, and showed his respect for the club who gave him regular games by celebrating minimally for both goals. The in-form Chelsea striker certainly lived up to the glowing assessment made by Owen Coyle before the game, and justified the decision of AVB to start with him up front, leaving another former Bolton player, Nicholas Anelka on the bench.
In defence, Terry looked as solid as ever, yet question marks remain over David Luiz, who certainly has more than enough quality on the ball – obviously being a Brazilian we would expect nothing less – but still takes more than the necessary risks in a defensive capacity. It has been said more than once that the player may be more comfortable as a holding midfielder than a centre back, yet AVB seems to be set on partnering him with the ever present John Terry at the back.
It will not go unnoticed for Chelsea fans that when their £50 million pound man Torres is suspended, they manage to score five goals and win with swagger, and Torres will be more than a little concerned to see the combination which brought Chelsea so much success in Lampard and Drogba linking up so well today. If this continues, the Spaniard may well see himself relegated to the bench for the huge match against Arsenal when he is finally eligible to play again.
Although they remain rock bottom in the table, things are not as bad as they may seem on paper for Bolton, who have had more than a couple of difficult fixtures recently having played United, Arsenal and Chelsea, and will look to rapidly gain points this month, with a trip to the DW stadium and also a home game against a very shaky Sunderland. It seems vital for Coyle to get Jaaskalinen back as soon as possible, with Bogdan looking in no way able to cope with the rigors of the Premier League.
Chelsea and Lampard meanwhile look to have more than answered their critics, and with discipline issues at City and injury woes at Old Trafford, look to be more than back in the race for the title – not that they would have ever counted themselves out of it.
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