Another win and another convincing performance from the Blues...
By Chris Davie at Upton Park
A relentless demolition of the Premier League could be upon us following Chelsea's bullish start to the season.
The latest casualties were luckless West Ham United, as Carlo Ancelotti’s side punished their opponents for a lacklustre opening half. A combination of poor organisation from the hosts and swift forward play from the visitors led to the Hammers' fleeting downfall, and the tie was effectively concluded long before Chris Foy blew to signal the interval.
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Scott Parker breached Chelsea’s defence for the first time this term and his volley was well taken. However, if the Premier League champions are only conceding goals such as this, their crown is not likely to change hands any time soon.
But Avram Grant’s men are not in a minority. West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic felt the wrath of Chelsea’s clinical attack this season, and although Stoke City kept their defeat to a respectable 2-0, they were merely cannon fodder at Stamford Bridge.
The unnerving thought surrounding the manner of Chelsea’s victories is not the amount they win by; it’s the way Ancelotti’s side can attain victory using their squad – not just a consistent eleven. They demonstrated this point against West Ham on Saturday.
The exclusion of Frank Lampard, who is sidelined after having a hernia operation, and Florent Malouda, who was rested following his midweek exertions with France, evidently didn’t have any bearing on the outcome of the game. Chelsea still looked composed and dominant in midfield with the duo of Michael Essien, Ramires and the safety net of John Obi Mikel. And in attack, although Salomon Kalou was subdued, with a large slice of fortune he still found the net.
Regardless of which personnel take to the field, it seems Chelsea are capable of obtaining a result even without their star players pulling the strings. Grant bravely paired Carlton Cole and Victor Obinna in attack on Saturday but after 20 minutes, the West Ham manager rightly relented; having seen Essien and Ramires swamp Mark Noble and Parker in the middle, he dropped the Nigerian into midfield to help combat the problem.
Anticipation around Stamford Bridge this summer surrounded the potential acquisition of a marquee player. Ancelotti’s side, according to some, were looking stale. The arrival of a big name never materialised and having offloaded several of the squad’s older players such as Michael Ballack, Deco and Juliano Belletti, it was feared Chelsea may be lacking in resources this season.
But the biggest acquisition came internally with the reintroduction of Essien. The Ghanaian missed a large portion of last season through injury but despite this, Chelsea still won the double. Perhaps this overshadowed the importance of the midfielder’s role at the club, and since his return, Essien has proved that Ancelotti’s side are even stronger with him than without.
Against West Ham, Essien scored two but it was his composure in midfield which was his most impressive attribute. Upon his arrival at Stamford Bridge he was labelled as a rough diamond which needed polishing, he had the skill set and certainly the stamina but refining his ability was crucial to his development. On Saturday, his assurance on the ball was the yardstick which showed how far he has progressed. Undoubtedly, now he is fully fit, Essien will be crucial to Chelsea’s pursuit of silverware this season.
Perhaps Chelsea need a tougher test in order to determine whether they truly are the efficient machine as described by many. This is likely to come in their match against Manchester City later in September, but even Roberto Mancini’s side are struggling to convince against the mid-table clubs.
As of now, Ancelotti’s men top the table and can boast a 100 per cent win record along with an incredible 16 goals in their favour in the goal difference stakes. No other side look quite so assured this term and it’s difficult to envisage a Premier League club, on current form, who are capable of derailing the Chelsea freight train.