LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Ramires of Chelsea celebrates with Jose Bosingwa as he scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on September 24, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
After the stress of a 0-0 midweek Carling Cup game against Fulham that went 120 minutes before Chelsea finally won a penalty shootout, an easy win was just what the doctor ordered. Fortunately, Swansea City were in town. That's no slight to Brendan Rodgers' side, of course, but receiving a newly promoted team at Stamford Bridge is a lot easier than going to Old Trafford for a slugging match with the defending champions.
Despite the media uproar over his open goal miss against Manchester United and the return to full fitness of Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres got the start, flanked by Juan Mata and Nicolas Anelka in a pretty standard Chelsea 4-3-3. John Obi Mikel returned to his role as midfield holder, with Raul Meireles and Ramires ahead of him. The defence lined up in pretty much the way you'd expect after David Luiz played 120 minutes midweek.
Swansea, meanwhile, played a 4-2-3-1 which for all intents and purposes was a 4-5-1-0, especially in the first half. We'll expand on that in the tactical analysis later, but Swansea seemed intent on keeping nine men behind the ball whenever Chelsea were in possession, which was most of the time. The Blues didn't seem to know what to do about this for the opening 25 minutes, with Raul Meireles in particular looking oddly subdued, but eventually worked things out: Juan Mata to Fernando Torres.
That combination eventually yielded the opening goal 29 minutes in when the wonderfully-monikered Angel Rangel kept Torres onside and Mata played a chip over the top of the rest of the Swansea defence. Torres took the ball on his chest, cutting out Rangel with his first touch, while his second sent a shot back across his body, leaving the much-vaunted Michel Vorm helpless and the back of the net rippling.
Torres wasn't done there, however. Within ten minutes, he added another goal to Chelsea's tally, although this time he wasn't the one to stick his shot in. In fact, he didn't even get an assist after dodging three Swansea players to spring Ashley Cole through. The left back would find Ramires running in space, and the Brazilian finished easily through Vorm's legs (the second nutmeg of the sequence) to make it 2-0.
Chelsea holding a two-goal cushion against a recently promoted team meant that, essentially, the match was over. That was a good thing, because Torres decided to end the half with a bang by going in two-footed on a slightly perplexed Mark Gower, who had the good sense to get out of the way and the good fortune that Torres' aim was so bad. Regardless of the fact that Gower emerged relatively unscathed and that Gower made a point of not making a point of things, Mark Dean had very little choice and brandished a straight red card to the striker.
Some have defended Torres by saying that this is out of character for him. That's true to a point, but this season he's made three vicious tackles (that I can remember off the top of my head), at least two of which he should have been sent off for. He's been doing this a lot, and now he's been rightly punished. We can't complain about that at all.
For the second half, Chelsea switched to a 4-1-3-1 shape, with Anelka as lone central forward. Rodgers replied by sending on Wayne Routledge to operate on the Chelsea left as Swansea looked to claw their way back into the game with a man advantage. Obviously, it worked out ok, and the Swans were able to put the Blues under some sustained pressure to begin the half, including a long range effort that deflected off Mikel and onto Petr Cech's crossbar with the goalkeeper helpless.
However, Swansea failed to find the net, and the long things went long the less likely it was to be worth anyone's time. Ten men or no, Chelsea were still dangerous, especially after Mata was substituted for Florent Malouda. Anelka wriggled past a bevy of defenders and turned a one-on-five into an astonishing shot that rattled Vorm's woodwork, but the visitors failed to pay much attention and left themselves exposed to a simple run by Ramires, who cut through the defence and dinked over the Dutch stopper.
Enough was enough, and at 3-0 it was time to introduce some players who deserved some time. Drogba came on for Anelka, who had put in a very good shift while Josh McEachran grabbed his first Premier League minutes of the season when he came on for Raul Meireles a few minutes later. Swansea would claim a goal through Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams, who's far less feminine in football kit* and some astonishingly sloppy set-piece marking from Chelsea for the second consecutive week, but the Blues would have the last laugh when Drogba picked up the ball, realised he couldn't do much with it but turn and shot, so did.
*I am totally original with my jokes!
The thing about Drogba that breaks games is that he has an almost magical ability to turn nothing into something at times. This was one of those times, and although it didn't really matter in the big scheme of things, it was pretty incredible to see a weak shot on the turn make a beeline straight for the bottom corner of Vorm's goal and make it 4-1. That's a pretty good way to return from injury, eh?
The biggest compliment I can pay to the Blues in the second half is that much like the match against Fulham, it was very hard to tell that they were playing with ten men. Despite their numerical disadvantage, they were still comfortably better than Swansea and never in danger of losing. Having a relaxing game like this was quite a lot of fun, and we managed to pick up two points on United in the process. It was a good day, in other words.
Chelsea's man of the match?
Ramires (141 votes)
John Obi Mikel (21 votes)
Nicolas Anelka (8 votes)
Juan Mata (14 votes)
Other (2 votes)
186 total votes