Nicolas Anelka maintained his magnificent start to life under Luiz Felipe Scolari to help Chelsea to a convincing 3-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns and into the Premier League record books.
The French international striker took his personal goal tally for the season to 13 as Scolari's team made it ten successive away wins in the Premier League and confirmed the worst fears of West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray.
Mowbray's candid admission that there are times when he goes into a game knowing that his side cannot win certainly proved true as Chelsea exposed the huge gulf in class over the Premier League's bottom side, in clambering back to the head of the title race.
A few hours earlier they had lost their seat at the summit as a result of Liverpool's victory at Bolton Wanderers, but they are in no mood to surrender that position on a permanent basis under the guidance of Brazilian Scolari as the goals continue to flow in a manner never seen under former coach Jose Mourinho.
Scolari has performed wonders enough in his early months at Stamford Bridge, but his most telling contribution has been his impact on Nicolas Anelka, the French international so often referred to as “Le Sulk,” but now with one of the broadest grins in the Premier League.
Anelka superb form again ensured that Didier Drogba had to be satisfied with a place on the substitute's bench, just three days after his controversial coin throwing incident in the League Cup against Burnley and if Anelka continues like this he could remain their for some time.
He had already managed more goals on his own than Tony Mowbray's side collectively, prior to kick off and he made that statistic more embarrassing with two impressive finishes in the last eight minutes of the first half.
His first was the result of Albion's inability to clear their defensive lines allowing Florent Malouda to guide a header into vast acres of space between Scott Carson and his defence and Anelka's devastating pace was matched with a sublime clip to punish another disappointing performance by the Albion goalkeeper.
Carson still harbours hopes of an England re-call, but, after last weekend's rush of blood at Anfield, he again showed his fallibility by getting caught out at his near post by Jose Bosingwa's swerving shot from the corner of the penalty area and he could only palm the ball into his own net to gift Chelsea the lead.
Abdoulaye Meite could not have wished for a more difficult return game, after a spell of inactivity with a thigh injury and in first half stoppage time his lack of first team minutes was cruelly exposed by the irrepressible Anelka.
Again his pace was simply too much to cope with, but he was assisted by some more uncertain goalkeeping from Carson, who allowed the Frenchman's shot to beat him at the near post.
Only a wonderfully brave intervention by Jonas Olsson deprived Anelka of a hat-trick, while Deco and Salomon Kalou were both guilty of taking one touch too many when they could see the whites of Carson's eyes.
Drogba was unable to get into the act himself in a final 15 minute cameo, but there was still time for Malouda to waste another wonderful opportunity and the only consolation for Mowbray and his team was avoiding a more embarrassing defeat.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!