CHELSEA (8) vs WIGAN ATH (0)
JUBILANT Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti extolled his team’s response to a season of off-field scandals after seeing them romp to the Premier League title with a record-breaking victory.
A Didier Drogba hat-trick, two from Nicolas Anelka and further goals from Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou and Ashley Cole buried Wigan and swept the Blues to their first league triumph since 2006.
It ensured Chelsea finished one point ahead of Manchester United and completed the first stage of a possible double, ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup final – and those were not the only milestones.
Their biggest top-flight win of all time saw the Blues become the first Premier League champions to pass a century of goals, while Drogba’s treble meant he pipped Wayne Rooney to the golden boot.
Such an outcome had looked unlikely a few weeks ago, after lurid tabloid headlines precipitated a dip in form, but they recovered to earn a delighted, and ever-so-slightly tipsy, Ancelotti, the title in his maiden season in charge. “We deserve to win because we played with dignity, moved on in difficult moments and maintained a good atmosphere on the training ground,” said the Italian.
“I think we won this title because we played as a team and worked as a team. The key point for the title was our victory in Manchester. That improved our confidence and sent Man United a little bit down.
“This club will have a future because these players are not so old. I think we will have a very good squad also for next year and the year after.”
Uncertainty hung in the air as kick-off approached, with United still able to snatch the title at the 11th hour should Chelsea slip up, but those doubts lasted all of five minutes, until Anelka slammed home a loose ball.
By the 32nd minute Wigan were down to 10 men, Lampard had scored from the penalty spot and Ancelotti’s men, having wrapped up the title, could look forward to an avalanche of goals in the second half.
Kalou tapped home from close range after a one-two with Lampard, and Anelka notched a classy second with a first-time volley into the far corner, before Drogba got the hat-trick that took his league tally to 29.
The Ivorian, whose desire to be top scorer boiled over into petulance when Lampard refused to let him take the first penalty, headed his first, stroked a second home from the spot and added a third from close range.
In the final minute, with Stamford Bridge in raptures, Ashley Cole struck the eighth on the volley, after Joe Cole had chipped to the far post, to cap the most emphatic of title-clinching victories.