Lampard finds his shooting boots
For the past couple of seasons, Stamford Bridge has become a fortress. As teams enter with a sense of optimism at pushing the Blue's to the limit, they always seem to find a way back and break the hearts of their opponents, and Saturday's game was no different.
With their 1-0 victory against Pompey in front of a crowd of just over 41,000, Chelsea's unbeaten Premier League run at home extended to an impressive 65 games. Before the match, Jose Mourinho announced the signing of Brazilian right-back Juliano Belletti from Champions League rivals Barcelona, making him the final piece to their trophy-chasing puzzle, and although Mourinho wanted Sevilla star Daniel Alves, Belletti will provide a veteran presence on the pitch along with a great deal of experience from his past accomplishments with the Catalan club.
'He brings what we believe we need, a pure right-back, not an adaptation anymore like we did so many times with Diarra, Essien and Wright-Phillips in that position,' said The Special One.
'So we have an attacking right-back and not an ordinary one. He has played in two of the biggest teams in the world - the Brazil national team and for Barcelona. In Brazil he was world champion and in Barcelona he was not just Spanish champion but also European champion,' he added.
Frank Lampard's 31st minute strike, assured Chelsea's place at the top of the table, with 10 points from four matches, and while Manchester United continue to stumble out of the gate, the Blue's confidence will continue to rise as they regain first place in the Premiership, a position they haven't been in since late September of last year.
Although Chelsea secured the three-points this was no easy feat, as a last gasp effort by Pompey in injury-time was cleared off the line by Ashley Cole's diving header.
'We didn't play especially well, we didn't look sharp and dynamic in attack. So it is the kind of game you need a clean sheet to win.' Mourinho told Chelsea TV.
His past performances garnered many cynical approaches by fans and the press alike, but Lampard's sudden prowess to put the ball in the back of the net is a refreshing sight for Chelsea and England admirers alike. Being criticized for not producing the goals a player of his calibre should be producing he is quickly using his feet to quiet the critics and prove that he is among one of the world's elite in the middle of the pitch.
With Lamps' goal in the Pompey victory it took his tally to two goals in four days, after he scored in the loss to Germany at Wembley. While he has faced plenty of criticisms from his previous performances both for club and country, he still has the full backing and support of his manager.
'If he has critics I am not one of them. He has people that support him every time and I am one of them.'
As the former West Ham United midfielder begins to find his feet and quiet the cynics, he is not the only strong point in a relatively young season. Shaun Wright-Phillips has also begun to come of age, and while his first few seasons at the club were disappointing due to his lack of first team appearances the new found trust given to him by Mourinho will give the young Englishman much needed confidence as the season wears on.
With his bags of pace and crossing ability, Wright-Phillips will prove to Mourinho that he truly does belong at the club, and that although he had to endure time on the bench, he will take this opportunity and run with it. And while Sunday's game lacked the headlines to produce a sensational story, Wright-Phillips performance was the bright spot for one Sunday Times journalist.
'Wright-Phillips at the beginning of the second-half started playing really well for a time when they started giving the ball to him more,' said Brian Glanville.
As the season slowly starts to kick into high gear, Chelsea's bright start to the season and their impeccable record at home shows that they are more hungry than ever to claim the Premier League title for a third time in four years, and if they can continue to show this type of promise in Europe, the Stamford Bridge faithful will be lining the streets of west London come May to celebrate their first Champions League victory in club history.
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