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Match Report: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Chelsea (Chelsea Fan's Perspective)

Monday 2nd January 2012
Chelsea put 2011 behind them and got 2012 off to a great start with three points in a feisty encounter with Wolverhampton Wanderers. With three draws and a loss in the last four matches, Andre Villas-Boas knew he needed to work up some wonders to get disillusioned Chelsea fans back on his side.

Having suffered a humiliating loss at the hands of Aston Villa only 48 hours ago, AVB once again rung the changes. Didier Drogba did not make the bench, with Chelsea citing "calf and ankle injuries". In-form Daniel Sturridge was also ruled out with a hip problem. Fernando Torres stepped up into Drogba's shoes and it was uncharted territory for Ramires, who was the stand-in right-winger with AVB refusing to budge on his 4-3-3 formation. Jose Bosingwa, often criticised for his hapless defensive displays, clearly showed enough in training to be rewarded a starting spot again, and Frank Lampard returned to start.

Chelsea started very brightly, although Wolves had the first chance when Bosingwa made a mistake it was all Chelsea for the first half hour. Juan Mata had a great chance on eight minutes, when he was fed in by a lovely diagonal ball from Torres, who had a lively game. His delicate clip over Wayne Hennessey failed to find the back of the net though, with Wolves clearing under pressure from Ramires.

In the thirteenth minute, Chelsea had another chance with Torres again laying on the opportunity but this time to Lampard. The vice-captain hesitated for half a second too long and Stearman made a critical challenge, nullifying the power in Lampard's shot for Hennessey to collect calmly.


Ramires continued to find space down the right hand side but, perhaps due to him being played out of position, he lacked the final ball and a few of his crosses were poor from a role which Sturridge, had he played, been able to do much more competently.

Referee Peter Walton was very card-shy to start, when three tackles in the opening ten minutes could have easily been bookable offences. But in for the next eight minutes he turned card-happy, brandishing the yellow card five times. The first on Lampard was a lucky escape, as the England man was very high on Hammill and caught him on the ankle, but maybe the 33 year-old's squeaky-clean reputation and immediate apology saved him from being given an early bath. The Wolves man retaliated just a minute after, fouling Torres, and earned a yellow much to the bemusement of Mick McCarthy.


Wolves continued to have chances, but the half fizzled out without any goals. Matt Jarvis came on in the second half for Forde, an attacking move from Wolves who clearly felt they had a chance at home against a generous Chelsea defence.

But it was Chelsea who got the breakthrough. Mata's out-swinging corner was delicately flicked on by John Terry, and Ramires pirouetted around the Wolves defence to rifle the ball into the roof of the net. Chelsea's Portugese contingent led the celebrations, including AVB and all his technical staff in a clear show of unity in these difficult times.


Steven Fletcher came on to replace debutant Emmanuel Frimpong as the home side tried to salvage something, though many Wolves fans were disappointed the in-form striker was not on from the start.

It was Chelsea's game to lose as the 70-minute mark neared. Torres continued his bright performance and Ramires showed bags of pace, something which must have convinced AVB to try him out in the right-wing role. But Wolves found a way back into the game, as so often happens with Chelsea. Bosingwa allowed Fletcher in behind and he pulled back for Ward to shoot home from twelve yards. The stadium erupted, but for AVB and his men it looked like another case of so near yet so far.

But two minutes later, there was refound joy for the visiting fans. Chelsea did not give up, as they have on so many occasions when being pegged back. Instead, they eased their hurt by counter-attacking, and went back in front just three minutes later. Lampard passed to Torres, who cleverly found Ashley Cole down the left. Seeing that Lampard had continued his run into the box, the English duo linked up and Lampard, as so often in the past, volleyed home, much to AVB's delight.
Three minutes of injury time were added on, and it was a case of holding onto the ball for Chelsea. But Oriol Romeu dallied on the ball, allowing Wolves to attack. The home side sent in a Rory Delap-style throw into the box, Fletcher headed it goalwards but a superb reflex save from Petr Cech saved Chelsea's skin. But for Cech, instead of sitting at home gleefully on his day off AVB could well have found himself on the wrong end of a call from Roman Abramovich tomorrow morning.

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Martin Li
Blogger on all things Chelsea (http://www.thechelseachronicle.com) and tweeter (http://twitter.com/CFCChronicle).

Total articles: 47

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