As I woke up just in time to watch the blues take on Stoke at home, my first emotion looking at the lineup was : bad choices. I thought Ancelotti got it wrong with his formation. Why would he play our greatest threat lately (Malouda) in midfield? and why play Kalou when he never shines as a starter? Cole would have been better. Finally, why play Drogba when he is not 100% fit, he should have been rested for Liverpool next week. After the 7-0 victory, maybe Ancelotti knew what he was doing after all … I still think Malouda should have played upfront on the left flank, with Anelka as central striker. Kalou on the other hand proved me totally wrong he was superb today as a starter. Chelsea showed the exact same fluidity they always display when they win with these large scores. The difference is that this time Drogba was a part of it. Drogba didn’t play his typical hitman role today, and that is in large part what allowed the team to play so well. The front 3 kept rotating positions, which created so many problems for the Stoke defense. I thought Drogba was amazing in his movement. He drifted wide a number of times, providing crosses and passes to Kalou and Anelka. Expect to see more of this from Drogba in the years to come. He is getting older and will not be able to play the hitman position as effectively for much longer. In the next few years, I see paying more of a setup role like he did today, and the blues will use him to weigh on defenses and provide more chances to a younger striker who will do the running and dribbling. Drogba certainly has the quality to do it. He has shown time and time again he can provide a great last pass, and about 4 years ago I believe he lead the league in number of assists.
Lampard was sublime as well. He is as impressive on the left as the right side of midfield. He played on the right today to facilitate Malouda’s presence on the left part of midfield. However, as usual, he was all over the place and involved in much of the attacking moves. He will be a tough one to replace in the future. Chelsea is lucky he has been all season long, because he is the one player the team could not replace with anybody else in the current squad. He is the true playmaker orchestrating chelsea’s attack from pretty much anywhere on the field. He does not play as your typical playmaker behind the strikers, instead he comes from deeper in the midfield and times his runs into the penalty box to perfection.
Kalou was the star tonight ! his first hat trick came at the right time in the season. He displayed a lot of confidence, tracked back and helped defensively and also played setup man at times. Kalou finally showed better finishing skills, he was ruthless in front of the goals and made a plea to be involved in the Liverpool game next week.
Overall, stellar performance from Chelsea. The defense was compact, the midfield was in control and the movement by the 3 front men created numerous chances which lead to 7 goals.
One more thing I was pleased about was the display by the young guys. Hutchinson came in with 20 mn to play and sent in a superb ball for Lampard’s goal. Sturridge came in with a few mn to go and showed pace and composure to finish off Stoke for his first in the EPL. With Ancelotti talking about promoting at least 5 players from the academy to first team next year, this is promising !