You could not blame the most faithful of Rovers supporters to stay at home and watch this from their lounge. Heave rain left the pitch almost waterlogged, whilst a list of injuries and suspensions left Blackburn playing with a make shift line up. Zurab, Jason Roberts, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Martin Olsson, Carlos Villanueva and Vince Grella all found themselves in the starting line up, with regulars Roque Santa Cruz, Brett Emerton, Benni McCarthy, Chris Samba, David Dunn, Steven Reid all out of action.
Chelsea had their own injury problems, but heck, their second string side is world class…..
A sign of the state of the pitch was obvious immediately. A backpass by Keith Andrews, pulled up about 10m short of Paul Robinson, with Anelka stroking the ball past Robbo. Robbo lunged out in an attempt to reach the ball, narrowliy missing it, and fortunately for Rovers, missing Anelka’s trailing foot, who then managed to trip over his own feet with an open goal in site.
Paul Robinson was back in the action only moments later, with a delightful cross whipped in by 16 million pound signing Boswinga ( that much for a defender? geez we havent spent that much in about 10 years lol), reaching the head of an unmarked Anelka. His powerful downwards header was brilliantly saved by Robbo. Robinson denied Obi Mikel in similar fashion only minutes later, using his legs in a last gasp effort to keep the ball out of the net.
Rovers then created one of the best chances of the half. A delightful first time cross by Gamst Pedersen found an unmarked Villanueva, who spiralled around and attempted to blast the ball past the wall they call Cech. Within arm’s reach, Cech pulled of a fine save to deny what would of been Villanueva’s first premier league goal.
Rovers pushed on, however Robinson was back in the action, pulling of 3 delightful saves, twice from Lampard and 1 from Anelka. Tragedy controversially followed for Rovers. A long distance powerful strike from Boswinga, heading wide of goal, clipped Anelka just outside the penalty box. The deflection left Robinson wrong footed, trickling into the goal. Robinson and the Rovers back 4 adamently protested the ball came of Anelka’s hand. Replays were inconclusive of whether it hit the hand or knee, but Robinson was adament it struck the hand. 1-0 Chelsea.
Rovers were forced into making a change, with Vince Grella pulling up with a hamstring injury, Aaron Mokoena coming on. At the break, Keith Andrews came of for Matt Derbyshire.
The rain stopped in the second half, and Rovers pushed forward. However, chances were few and far between, with most of the action occuring in the middle half of the field. Rovers did have a great chance to equalise though. Another delightful chip by Morten Gamst Pedersen found Jason Roberts back to goal. He turned his marker inside out,leaving him one on one with Petr Cech. Roberts then lacked the final touch, shooting straight at the keeper.
Further controversy followed, with Morten Gamst Pedersen going down in the box after having his shirt tugged. Gamst was adament he was fouled, and so were the Rovers faithful, but their shouts fell deaf on the ears of referee Chris FOy
Anelka decided to show Jason Roberts how it’s done, being placed in the same situation with Robinson charging at him, Anelka dinked the ball over the keeper, and into the back of the net, 2-0 Chelsea.
Anelka had a chance to wrap the game up and seal his hatrick with 5 minutes to go, another one on one opportunity, but this time it was Robinson who came up triumphant, parrying the shot to safety.
Rovers 0- Chelsea 2
Paul Robinson 9.5
MOM. Splendid reaction saves, really kept Rovers in the game, couldnt do much about the goals.
Danny Simpson 6
Struggled in the whether, tried to advance in attack but first touch was not there
Ryan Nelsen 6.5
The big Kiwi tried his best for Blackburn, but did have trouble controlling Anelka.
Zurab K 7.5
Good return by the Monk. Defended solidly, was well positioned
Martin Olsson 7
The young kid did well. Allowed Gamst to get up the park, shut down Boswinga and made some good interventions
Steven Warnock 6.5
Chased and tried his best, but im still not convinced Centre Midfield is his position
Vince Grella 6.5
Was playing well, but never looked fit. Maybe should of sat out this game and returned in the midweek cup action, but im sure he wanted to be out on the field
Carlos Villanueva 7
Glimpses of what he can do, did have one of Rovers best chance though, should of scored
Morten Gamst Pedersen 7
We saw a bit of both sides tonight. Defended well, placed some delightful crosses, skimmed his man. BUt the other side was also there, soft into tackles, poor first touch. I think its a matter of confidence, he needs one goal and then im sure he will be back
Keith Andrews 6
Ineffectual in the first half
Jason Roberts 6.5
Ive never doubted this mans effort. Works hard, chases everything down, puts his hand up all the time. But the guy just cant finish. Credit to him, he made the chance, but how many does he miss?
Matt Derbyshire 7
Some great touches by Matt, couldnt get the opening he wanted though
Aaron Mokoena 6.5
Did well. Hasnt featured much this year, but came on and did the job asked of him
Minimal time to affect the game
Really unlucky for Rovers. The deflection was fortunate enough, but i believe that Anelka got his hand onto the ball. Really Unlucky
Mr Foy got 1 out of the 2 claims right. Anelka rushing through and stumbling would normally have been given, with the keeper being sent of. To his credit, the ref was well positioned to see that Anelka had stumbled. TO Anelka’s credit, he didnt make a meal of it, got up and continued.
Gamst was definately fouled. No doubt about it, when the luck aint there, it definately aint there