After 71 seconds, Blackpool fans could have been forgiven for thinking their team was heading for a record Premier League defeat. Prior to kick off, the they could have been forgiven just the same.
While Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 first half lead in the final Premier League game of this weekend, the reigning champions took their foot off the gas in the second half, surrendering any hopes of Premier League records. Blackpool even had a couple of opportunities themselves in the second half, but there was only ever going to be one winner in this match.
Salomon Kalou scored that opener, while Florent Malouda scored goals either side of Didier Drogba’s deflected effort on half hour. As I wrote in my weekly Premier League Tips, I expected Chelsea to cause problems at will down the flanks. Ashley Cole was playing for fun down the left flank, while Florent Malouda could have had a hat trick himself.
Rating Chelsea’s credentials for their Premier League challenge will not be judged on this performance, neither shall they be next weekend when they face their first test of the season with a trip to Manchester City. Chelsea were beat in both meetings with the second team in Manchester last season. City were also the only side to defeat Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in his first season at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have already opened a 7 point lead over Manchester City in 5 games, and a 4 point lead over second place Arsenal.
Manchester City recorded a 2-0 victory over Wigan today, while a Dimitar Berbatov hat trick helped secure a big victory for Manchester United over Liverpool, as they remain 4 points behind leaders Chelsea. On Saturday, Darren Bent’s stoppage stoppage time equaliser for Sunderland saw Arsenal drop further behind Chelsea who subsequently became odds-on favourites to defend their title.
Chelsea were able to record their comfortable victory today without the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka. Their strength in depth is impressive, with Branislav Ivanovic comfortably slipping into central defence, and Salomon Kalou having no problems playing as a starting right forward. I would say today’s central midfield would struggle against the elite in the league, with the world class Michael Essien being partnered by Ramires and John Obi Mikel.
Chelsea have now scored 21 goals in their opening 5 goals, with only Scott Parker’s consolation goal going against them.
Chelsea travel to Manchester City next weekend, followed up by hosting Arsenal and then travelling to Aston Villa for their next three Premier League fixtures. That’s a test, and one I expect to see Chelsea top of the Premier League on the evening of Saturday October 16th.