Blackpool 1-3 Chelsea: Lampard double sinks Seasiders
Published 22:01 07/03/11 By David Anderson
What was that you were saying, Fergie? About it being a two-horse title race?
One of Sir Alex’s last pronouncements before he hauled up the Old Trafford drawbridge in a huff was to brashly proclaim that the Premier League would be won by either Manchester United or Arsenal.
He may want to revise that forecast after these eventful last seven days...
Because if he stops ranting and listens, he will be able to make out the sound of Chelsea's and Manchester City’s hooves closing in on United.
Suddenly Chelsea, who were sweating on a Champions League spot just a week ago, are back in with a chance as United threaten to do a Devon Loch.
Carlo Ancelotti’s rejuvenated champions have moved to within nine points of United, with a game in hand.
And, crucially, they have still to travel to Old Trafford, where they effectively clinched the title last Easter.
Chelsea are the form horse compared to United, and whereas Fergie’s stuttering nags have taken nine points from their last six games, the Blues have pocketed 13.
It didn’t even matter that Fernando Torres went a fifth game without scoring during another lacklustre display because Frank Lampard has plenty of goals left in him.
He scored two and made the other on a night when Blackpool slipped closer to the Championship and whence they came.
Ian Holloway’s side are bottom of the current form-table with just seven points from their 12 games this year and once again their defensive frailities were exposed.
They have the worst backline in the top flight and the three they conceded last night took their goals-against tally to a shocking 58.
Chelsea took full advantage of their leaky defence to open the scoring on 20 minutes when Lampard swung over a corner from the right and the unmarked John Terry headed home from six yards out.
Holloway must have felt like pulling out his hair at his side’s inept defending - if he had any left.
Jose Bosingwa went close to adding a second when he cut in from his right wing, only for Richard Kingson to touch away his shot with his outstretched right hand.
Blackpool, missing the suspended Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell, came storming back and Jason Puncheon beat Jonathan Creek-lookalike David Luiz before hitting a shot which Petr Cech unconvincingly diverted against his left-hand post.
David Carney then went past Luiz on the right after Bosingwa had fallen theatrically, holding his face, and his drive was blocked by the covering Lampard.
This was Blackpool’s best spell of the game and Cech touched Ian Evatt’s dangerous cross over with several Tangerine shirts lurking in the box.
Chelsea regained their grip on the game and Kingson saved well from Ramires, diving to his right to push away his left-foot shot.
Didier Drogba had been handed his big chance up front alongside Torres in preference to Nicolas Anelka, but he did little apart from fall over when defending in his own six-yard box, claiming he had been pushed by James Beattie.
His partnership with Torres never happened and the pair played like complete strangers.
Drogba’s miserable night came to a premature and disappointing end on 55 minutes when he went off injured, to be replaced by Salomon Kalou.
Chelsea didn’t need the Drog though, and Kalou added a new dimension to their attack, winning the penalty for the crucial second goal.
Evatt brought the substitute down in the box to leave Holloway ranting to fourth official Mark Halsey on the touchline that there had been no contact.
Lampard kept his cool and sent Kingson the wrong way as he dispatched the spot-kick with his trusty right foot on 62 minutes.
The Seasiders were beaten and Lampard showed his class to add the third four minutes later. Kalou picked out his perfectly-timed defence-splitting run and he slotted home with his right-foot across goal into the far corner.
Blackpool salvaged some pride during a late rally when Puncheon scored four minutes from time with an angled drive and Terry diverted a goalbound David Vaughan effort wide.
But it was undeniably Chelsea’s night - and it could yet be their season.
Blackpool: Kingson 6 (Halstead 66mins 5); Eardley 5, Baptiste 5, Evatt 5, Crainey 6; Puncheon 7, Vaughan 7, Southern 6, Reid 6 (Ormerod 72mins 5), Carney 6 (Phillips 72mins 5); Beattie 6. Subs not used: Taylor-Fletcher, Grandin, Varney, Kornilenko.
Chelsea: Cech 5; Bosingwa 6, Terry 7, Luiz 6, Cole 6; Ramires 6 (McEachran 75mins 5), Lampard 8, Essien 7, Zhirkov 6 (Malouda 71mins 5); Drogba 4 (Kalou 55mins 7), Torres 5. Subs not used: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Anelka.
Referee: Mike Dean
HERO Frank Lampard: Two more goals for the England man.
VILLAIN Didier Drogba: Failed to prove he should partner Fernando Torres.
ANORAK Blackpool have conceded in all 14 of their Premier League home games this season.