SEA (1) v/s BOLTON (0)
WELL, he may not have got too much wrong in his 23 years in charge at Manchester United, but Sir Alex Ferguson was certainly wide of the mark here.
His assumption that Bolton would be “easy” for Chelsea couldn’t have been further from the truth as Owen Coyle’s industrious Trotters ensured the title favourites were made to fight all the way in a nervy Stamford Bridge encounter.
Nicolas Anelka’s first-half goal proved just enough to take Chelsea four points clear at the top of the table and edge the club ever closer to a first-ever league and cup double.
But, in truth, this was a performance that will give title rivals United and Arsenal hope they can overturn the deficit as Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti quickly learned the definition of the English term “squeaky bum time”.
Indeed, Coyle believed his side were denied a point by referee Lee Probert, who waved away two strong penalty claims after Didier Drogba and John Terry both appeared to have handled in the box in the first half.
“The game certainly wasn’t easy,” a relieved Terry said afterwards. “With Kevin Davies up front and Jack Wilshere in behind they caused us problems all night but we stuck in there and ground it out. We did well and did what we had to do.”
Of the penalty claim, Terry added: “The ball came off here,” pointing to his chest. “It certainly felt like my chest.”
Without the rested Florent Malouda, Chelsea took a while to get going until Anelka popped up to end his goal drought two minutes before the interval, heading home Drogba’s inch-perfect cross two minutes for his first goal in 14 games.
Frank Lampard struck a post for Chelsea, while Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen saved well from Yuri Zhirkov and lively substitute Joe Cole as the Blues piled forward late on.
But the longer they went without adding that killer second goal the more frustrated they became and hearts were in mouths right at the end when Johan Elmander came close to stealing an unlikely point for the struggling Trotters with a late header which flew inches wide.