Don't be fooled by the goals galore, Pompey were woeful...
At Fratton Park tonight Chelsea got their Premier League campaign back on track, while Portsmouth plumbed new depths in a season of unfathomable lows. But don't be fooled by the 5-0 scoreline, because this wasn't a memorable performance from either side.
Put simply, no one is going to have walked away from Fratton Park tonight believing they had just witnessed a game between the worst side in the Premier League and its best.
The worst? Probably, indeed almost definitely, although Pompey's loyal supporters might be understandably loath to saddle their beleaguered team with such a tag at a time when they deserve some credit for trying to make the most of a hopeless situation.
But the best? Not on this evidence, even with five unanswered goals for Chelsea fans to point at. Indeed, for much of the match the only obvious difference between the two sides was the luck — good or bad, depending on your viewpoint — which saw David James wickedly deceived by a bobbling ball, evading his swinging clearance and making Didier Drogba's 29th goal of the season also undoubtedly his easiest.
From that point, which fortuitously arrived just before half-time, the game was over and Portsmouth's players (with the odd commendable exception) began going through the motions. Both Florent Malouda's goals shortly after half-time were taken with remarkably little protest, before Drogba added his second after John Obi Mikel's 50-yard ball had out-foxed the entire Pompey backline.
By the time Frank Lampard added the fifth late on — the only one still jumping inside the Portsmouth penalty box to meet Drogba's ludicrously high flick on completely unchallenged — it was clear that the Portsmouth players' resolve had long since broken, gradually eroded over the course of a rollercoaster season.
Chelsea were just the latest to take advantage, without ever excelling themselves. But there were a few bright points that will please Carlo Ancelotti ahead of future challenges. Joe Cole came on in the second half and was bright, immediately testing James and playing a key role in the move Lampard finally finished.
Deco's start in midfield had the desired effect, with the Portuguese schemer giving Chelsea a bit more spark and fluidity that has been noticeable in its absence in recent games, while Ancelotti's decision to drop Nicolas Anelka after a few below-par performances will hopefully give the Frenchman the push he needs to rediscover his form for the remainder of the campaign.
A debut for young Patrick van Aanholt was also positive, the young left-back showing that even if Yury Zhirkov gets injured again the Blues will still have another full-back with good attacking instincts to call upon.
But even in emphatic victory, tonight Chelsea will have convinced no-one that they have what it takes to overhaul Manchester United and Arsenal in the race for Premier League glory.
But they still can — and to the players and their manager that will be the only thing that really matters.
With bigger challenges to come, after recent struggles fans should just be thankful the Blues came away with a regulation three points.
The title challenge is still on, to everyone's relief; now the weekend's game against Aston Villa becomes the next defining test.