Now Chelsea

Minggu, 09 Mei 2010

Chelsea clinched the Premier League title with a performance worthy of champions, as they put on a clinical display at Stamford Bridge that proved far more than a dejected Wigan Athletic side could cope with.

It was Nicolas Anelka who started the party ahead of schedule on Sunday, taking barely five minutes to lash a cushioned header beyond Mike Pollitt. From that platform the home side were initially cautious in their pursuit of a second, until Frank Lampard picked himself up on the half-hour mark to convert from the spot after Latics' defender Gary Caldwell had been given his marching orders.

Salomon Kalou added a third early in the second half, before Anelka got the celebrations in full flow with his second of the game minutes later. With the party in full swing and the floodgates wide open, Didier Drogba then clinched the Golden Boot award with the fifth, sixth and seventh goals of the game — increasing his tally to an impressive 29 for the season — before Ashley Cole capped it all off late on as the west London club celebrated their coronation as champions in the most emphatic style imaginable.

Both sides started the game brightly, but it was Chelsea who created the first chance of note as Kalou was brought down around 30 yards from goal after galloping beyond the midfield on a dangerous counter-attack. Drogba could do no better than smash the resulting free-kick into the wall, but the ball ricocheted out to Lampard, who caught out the onrushing defence as he floated a header back into the box.

Florent Malouda was the man most alert to the danger, and the Frenchman avoided suspicions of offside to cushion the ball down for his countryman Anelka on the edge of the six-yard box. Teed up perfectly, the 31-year-old made no mistake with his right foot as he volleyed the ball first-time beyond former Manchester United trainee Pollitt at his near post.

If that wasn't the defining point in the game, then it finally came 25 minutes later as Chelsea made their second meaningful attack count in clinical fashion. Kalou again ran with the ball down the right, and after some slick inter-play the ball found Lampard on the edge of the box. Marked tightly by Caldwell — who was also beaten by Malouda in the creation of the opener — the England midfielder's deft touch deceived his marker completely, leaving the Scot with little choice but to clumsily drag him to the floor as he burst into the box.

Referee Martin Atkinson didn't hesitate in pointing to the penalty spot, and compounded the punishment on Roberto Martinez's side by dismissing Caldwell. When the protests died down Lampard made no mistake from 12 yards out, blasting a trademark strike low to his left beyond Pollitt's despairing dive.
Wigan showed glimpses of their commendable attacking instincts throughout the game, but were agonisingly unable to find a final through ball that could have created any response to their opponents' goals. Hugo Rodallega — so influential in the Latics' victory in the reverse fixture at the DW Stadium in September — was a frequent threat to the Blues' defence, causing problems with his pace and movement, but was ultimately undone by a lack of quality service.

Defensively, meanwhile, Wigan showed why they struggled to ensure their league survival for much of the campaign. Caldwell's 30 minute cameo was poor, and his centre-back partner Gohouri was little better all game. Beyond the two mishaps they survived the first half reasonably well, but in the second half their lack of quality was ruthlessly exposed.

Chelsea were first to emerge from the tunnel after the half-time break, and were also the first to threaten in the second half, with only a dubious offside decision ending some early danger after Lampard's flick clattered Pollitt's crossbar.

But it didn't take much longer for Ancelotti's side to get their third, with Kalou once again at the heart of the good work. The Ivorian slipped the ball to Lampard down the right-hand side of the box, and the Englishman completed a fine one-two as he slide a low cross between Wigan's defenders to find the striker unmarked, who made no mistake in passing a shot beyond the 'keeper into the bottom corner from all of five yards out.

Three minutes later they had a fourth, with Anelka grabbing his second of the game. Branislav Ivanovic popped a fine cross into the Frenchman at the back post, and the striker showed his first goal was no fluke as he hit another sweet first-time volley beyond Pollitt, this time at his far post.

It was a wonderful finish, the best of the game, and the players celebrated it as if they finally believed the title had been secured.
Ancelotti immediately made changes, withdrawing the impressive Kalou for Joe Cole and the solid Ivanovic for Juliano Belletti, in what is likely to be the out-of-contract Brazilian's penultimate game for the club.

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