Nervy win sees Chelsea move four points clear at the top
Chelsea moved four points clear at the summit of the Premier League last night with a nervy victory over Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge.
Nicolas Anelka snatched the winner two minutes before the break and the home side managed to cling on to the advantage despite enduring an edgy second half.
Bolton looked impressive considering their current position in the League table and they maintained a solid shape as Chelsea struggled to break the visitors down.
Fans of the Trotters wanted an improved brand of football after the reign of Gary Megson and it appears his replacement, Owen Coyle, is laying the essential foundations for a positive campaign next season.
They showed a steely determination and limited the hosts to few chances with Didier Drogba largely anonymous.
However it was the Ivory Coast striker who created Chelsea’s only goal of the night.
His delicious cross was met by the head of Anelka just as half time beckoned to ease the nerves of the home supporters and give the France striker his first goal since January.
The match’s talking points will have left fans of Bolton, Arsenal and Manchester United reeling after referee Lee Probert turned down a pair of penalty claims for the Trotters.
In the eyes of Owen Coyle, Bolton were denied “two clear penalties”.
The first came after Drogba displayed his “world class volleyball” skills in the penalty area, deflected the ball from the path of the onrushing Kevin Davies with a subtle movement of the arm.
Later in the second half the ball appeared to strike Chelsea skipper Terry on the arm in the six yard box but on both occasions the referee waved play on.
When Coyle was asked whether he believed his Bolton side had played the eventual champions, the former Republic of Ireland international remarked that if Ancelotti’s team continued to receive such generous treatment from officials they would certainly be crowned Champions.
This hard earned victory edged Chelsea closer to the title with four games remaining but the Blues will be aware of a potential further twist in the title race with John Terry and co. faced with the prospect of difficult trips to Anfield and White Hart Lane.
The visit of Stoke is sandwiched between these two away fixtures followed by a home clash with Wigan on the final day of the season.
Ancelotti insists that his players will remain grounded with the title far from won, but the Italian coach did say that “the Premier League is now in our hands,”
However, he urged his squad to take nothing for granted, adding “we have to stay focused and calm.”