BOLTON (1) vs CHELSEA (5)
CHELSEA manager Andre Villas-Boas insists he will not allow a player’s age to influence his team selection after Frank Lampard rolled back the years with a clinical hat-trick.
Lampard followed up his midweek strike at Valencia with a vintage treble, while striker Daniel Sturridge grabbed the other two as the Blues demolished bottom-of-the-table Bolton to go third in the Premier League.
The veteran midfielder, 33, appears to be rediscovering his best form just as he faces increased competition for his starting place with both club and country and Villas-Boas acknowledged Lampard’s enduring quality.
“It is not a question of age; it is a question of competence, and this squad is full of competence. The talent of the players is never in question and I think we have enough to talent to try to continue to challenge for the Premier League,” he said. “It was good for him [Lampard] because he had a good, solid performance alongside the rest of the team. He arrived with perfect timing into the box as he has done in the past years. His talent was never in question.”
Sturridge enjoyed a fruitful loan spell at Bolton last season and soon found the Reebok Stadium to his liking again when he headed the opening goal inside the second minute.
The youngster set up Lampard to double the lead with a trademark low finish before stand-in goalkeeper Adam Bogdan gifted Sturridge his second, fumbling it in at his near post. Bogdan also handed Lampard a second, and put the visitors four up at half-time, when he spilled a David Luiz shot at his feet.
Dedryck Boyata headed home Martin Petrov’s free-kick to give Bolton hope straight after the restart but Lampard reasserted Chelsea’s superiority and clinched his hat-trick when he nimbly gathered a Didier Drogba pass and guided a low finish past Bogdan.