Chelsea recorded an emphatic victory against Bolton with England duo Frank Lampard scoring a hat-trick and former Bolton loanee Sturridge getting a brace. It was a great way to respond for Frank Lampard, who had been getting some stick of late, and a truly haunting experience for Owen Coyle’s men with the return of Sturridge.
With Torres suspended, it was a front three of Mata, Drogba, and Sturridge who started, and it was just 92 seconds in that a combination of Mata and Sturridge resulted in the opening goal. Juan Mata sent in a corner, and with no-one near him, Daniel Sturridge had all the time in the world to head down and watch it go past stand-in rookie Bogdan. Bolton really should have tightened up – knowing Sturridge scored 8 in 12 games when he was with them – but he was allowed ample space. Out of respect, he did not celebrate.
But Chelsea were soon celebrating again. Just ten minutes later, Ramires and Mata brought the ball forward, the latter passing it to Sturridge again on the right, who squared it to the oncoming Lampard. The England veteran rolled it into the back of the net, a good goal and a real attacking venom shown by Chelsea.
On the 25th minute, it was Sturridge who scored his second. Cutting in from the right, he fired a speculative shot from all of 22 yards which bounced up in front of Bogdan, only for him to palm it into the goal. A goal-keeping howler to add to a dreadful day so far for Bolton’s defence.
And that wasn’t it. Just two minutes later, Lampard scored his second, this time another mistake by the Hungarian rookie keeper. David Luiz brought the ball forward and again tried a shot from range. Bogdan fumbled the ball, into the path of Frank Lampard, who got his foot up and side-footed it into the corner of the net. With not even half an hour played, Chelsea were 4-0 up and cruising.
With some words undoubtedly said and a substitution by Owen Coyle at half-time, Bolton responded seconds into the restart. Petrov delivered a good free-kick into the Chelsea box which Derick Boyata got on the end of. Jose Bosingwa was the man who was supposed to have been marking him, but even if he is an attacking threat, he is a huge defensive liability, who seems to never go into the mix of things in set-pieces.
With Bolton coming back into it, AVB tweaked his side, that man Bosingwa was deemed to be too much of a defensive frailty, so the sturdier Ivanovic came on in his place. Chelsea made another substitution, Mikel came on for Ramires, and this allowed Meireles to play more attacking whilst Mikel sat.
Then, with just under an hour played, Lampard completed his hat-trick and became the fifth highest league scorer in Chelsea’s history, to relieve any Chelsea nerves, knowing on a certain previous occasion against Bolton, we had yet again been leading 4-0 at half-time, but managed to just scrape it in the end 4-3. Drogba, who had a subdued match, crossed into the box from the left-wing and, with a delicate touch to stop the ball, Lampard swiveled around and side-footed it into the bottom right hand corner. A super goal with tremendous vision, Lampard was delighted and held his hand up in joy, incase anyone had continued to write him off.
The match did not end there though in terms of chances. Bolton were coming back into things, millimetres away from grabbing a second were it not for Ivanovic’s goal-line clearance. Tuncay and Petrov had worked together to create the chance for Kevin Davies, but somehow the Serbian got back in the nick of time. Replays showed parts of the ball crossed the line, but not the whole ball, a correct decision by referee Peter Walton.
Sturridge wasn’t too far away from getting his hat-trick, drilling a shot inches wide from Drogba’s lay-off, but after a tough trip to Valencia mid-week, Chelsea can be delighted with the performance.
A type of performance Roman Abramovich would surely be licking his lips too. In fairness, that is probably why he brought in AVB. A brand new attacking style, with Mata the fulcrum; even if he didn’t get a goal today, he played his part. AVB dedicated the win to “my technical staff”, and maybe the signs are there that AVB is getting to know Chelsea, and Chelsea are getting to know him. Sturridge again proved that he is maturing into a fine player, whilst Lampard professionally put his critics in their place, scoring a lovely hat-trick and being majestic in the midfield.
With an international break next week, it remains to be seen if Sturridge will get an England call-up with Capello watching on today, or if Lampard will start. As for Bolton keeper Bogdan, the ginger-haired, pink-topped Hungarian stopper left The Reebok red-faced, a performance he hopes he will never repeat.