Upon a rain-soaked afternoon in the North-West, champions Chelsea produced a smash-and-grab performance to steal all three points against Blackburn. It was a win which displayed the hallmark of ‘champions’ – grit, determination, resilience and an unbelievable hunger to win.
For long periods versus Allardyce’s men, the Blues were second best. Out-fought and surprisingly outplayed in the first half. Despite a bright start from Carlo Ancelotti’s boys, Blackburn were the side creating all the chances and if it wasn’t for the excellent Petr Cech in goal, Chelsea could have been out of the game.
It was an uncharacteristically lacklustre performance in the first 45 minutes from Chelsea. The defence looked all at sea, struggling to cope with Blackburn’s physicality and pace up front.
Despite the Blues’ poor first half performance, much credit has to go to Blackburn as they chased and harried without the ball and with it, caused Chelsea’s back four and keeper all sorts of problems with their sheer endeavour and tenacity, buoyed by a vociferous Ewood Park crowd.
Allardyce's men took a well deserved lead through Benjani’s first goal for the club. However, Chelsea thought back through a very typical Blackburn style goal – route one football finished by the deadly Anelka whose record against Saturday’s opponents now reads 11 goals in 15 games in his career, pretty impressive.
It was an undeserved goal for the champions but seemed inevitable for the statistician. Never before have Chelsea gone three away games without scoring during the Abramovich era. After drawing blanks versus Man City and Aston Villa respectively, Ancelotti’s men were keen on keeping that proud record in tact.
The second half saw a much- improved performance from the Blues. It was a half in which they controlled possession without really threatening Paul Robinson in the Rovers goal. Despite Chelsea’s control of the game, Blackburn could and should have re-taken the lead as substitute Jason Roberts missed an excellent chance with only Cech to beat and that could have been game over.
However, as we’ve seen many times in the Abramovich era, this Chelsea side just doesn’t give up and they snatched a winner with ten minutes to go through Branislav Ivanovic’s bullet header. Like Benjani, it was his first league goal for his club as it sparked chaotic celebrations amongst players and fans alike. A sheer sense of relief flowed through everyone associated with Chelsea.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.