Blues March On  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

Michael EssienA Michael Essien brace helped Chelsea easily beat Wolves 4-0 to keep up their march at the top of the table.

Florent Malouda opened the scoring in the fifth minute with an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net from 25 yards after Jody Craddock had mis-kicked the ball into his path just inside the Wolves' half.

Essien then doubled the advantage in the 12th minute when stealing in at the near post to nod home Saloman Kalou's corner.

The Ghanian then got his second on 22 minutes when slotting home from 25 yards in front of goal, although Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey should have saved diving to his left.

Joe Cole then scored his first goal in 13 months in the 56th minute to complete the victory and send the Blues eight points clear at the top, while Wolves remain in the bottom three.

The victory was Chelsea's 12th in a row in all competitions at Stamford Bridge which set a new club record for home wins.

The previous record was 11 between 25th February and 17th September 2006 and the clean sheet also saw them equal their record of 10 consecutive games without conceding at home.

But the Blues could have gone behind in the fourth minute when a fine Wolves move saw Matthew Jarvis break free on the right.

However, his cross just eluded David Edwards as he arrived in the six-yard box.

Wolves paid a heavy price for the miss a minute later as Malouda collected a mis-kick from Craddock inside the centre-circle and ran on unchallenged to unleash a 25-yard shot into the roof of the net.

Another sweet Chelsea move in the 11th minute almost brought them a second goal but Hennessey tipped Kalou's 20-yard angled drive around the post.

Relief shortlived

However, the relief for Wolves was shortlived as from Malouda's resultant flag-kick, Essien rose to head home from six yards.

Chelsea made it three in the 22nd minute when Essien's low drive went under Hennessey for his second of the game.

The home side were determined to record their 1000th league win at Stamford Bridge as well as complete a year since their last defeat at home.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy had spent much of the half shaking his head in disbelief at his side's reckless defending.

But in the 39th minute, Wolves almost conjured a goal out of nothing when a close-range header from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was superbly kept out by Petr Cech.

Chelsea's performance had been even more admirable without the likes of injured quartet Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Deco and Michael Ballack.

Their quick, incisive passing game was too much for Wolves who spent much of the half chasing shadows.

Chelsea continued where they left off in the second-half and a superb crossfield pass by Nicolas Anelka found Malouda free on the left.

However, the France international slipped at the vital moment and saw his shot deflected.

Hennessey then held on to a shot from Alex as Chelsea threatened to increase their advantage.

Welcome strike

But the league leaders did make it four in the 56th minute and it was a welcome strike for the fit again Cole.

The England midfielder, out for 10 months since January, side-footed the ball in after Anelka's cross had been turned into his path by Kalou, although again Hennessey could have done better.

It was Cole's first goal for the Blues since the win over Aston Villa back in October 2008.

Moments later Anelka made way for substitute Gael Kakuta to make his first-team debut.

In September, Chelsea were found guilty by Fifa of inducing Kakuta to breach his contract with Lens two years ago and punished them with a transfer ban until 2011, while suspending the player for four months.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the bans until Chelsea's case is heard in full and that allowed Kakuta to make his debut.

Essien then almost claimed a hat-trick in the 63rd minute but his shot was palmed onto the top of the bar by Hennessey.

Kakuta almost celebrated his debut with a goal but his 25-yard effort curled the wrong side of the upright.

Essien then sent a 20-yard drive just wide of the post as a hat-trick continued to elude him but Chelsea held on for a comfortable win.


Chelsea  Cech, Belletti, Alex, Terry, A. Cole, Mikel, Essien, Malouda (Matic 69), J. Cole, Kalou (Borini 78), Anelka (Kakuta 59)
Subs Not Used
  Hilario, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Zhirkov
Goals  Malouda 5, Essien 12, 22, J. Cole 56

Wolverhampton Wanderers  Hennessey, Halford, Craddock, Berra, Stearman, Edwards, Henry, Surman, Castillo (Kightly 53), Jarvis, Ebanks-Blake (Keogh 62)
Subs Not Used Hahnemann, Elokobi, Milijas, Foley, Maierhofer
Booked  Craddock, Keogh

Attendance 41,786

L. Mason