A brace from midfielder Frank Lampard and goals from John Terry, gave Chelsea a comfortable 3-1 victory over Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, the lively Jason Puncheon bagging a late reply for the home side.
Starting with Didier Drogba and £50m Fernando Torres up front, neither of whom were impressive, the Blues didn’t have to get out of second gear against Ian Holloway’s side, who are looking increasingly haunted by the threat of relegation.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men started well enough and, after a Ramires effort had forced Richard Kingson, the Blackpool goalkeeper, into a good save, took the lead in the 20th minute via a simple header by captain John Terry.
A corner from the right by Lampard was swung onto the edge of the six-yard box, and when Terry escaped the attentions of James Beattie, the defender powered a header past a helpless Kingson.
Blackpool threatened intermittently and almost found themselves level before half-time when a right-footed effort from Jason Puncheon, the winger on-loan from Southampton, was only turned onto the post by Chelsea ‘keeper Petr Cech.
Minutes later and Cech was at his best to turn away an Ian Evatt cross-shot away from under his crossbar.
10 minutes into the second half Drogba, after receiving a knock to the hip, was replaced by Saloman Kalou, and the Ivorian was quickly into his rhythm causing the Tangerines defence problems, and he played a big part in both of Lampard’s goals.
Firstly, in the 62nd minute, the forward was played through in the inside-left channel and was taken down in the penalty area by the despairing challenge of Ian Evatt. The Blackpool defender, got a touch on the ball, but only after fouling Kalou first and referee Mike Dean mad the right decision in giving the spot-kick, from which Frank Lampard sent Kingson the wrong way.
Just four minutes later, and a sublime piece of one touch football, involving Ramires, Essien and Kalou, saw the substitute turn, run at the home side’s defence and roll a sublime through ball to Lampard, who rolled the ball past Kingson into the far corner.
The Ivorian’s performance on his 93rd substitute appearance for Chelsea, a club record, was enough to earn him the man of the match award, a complete contrast to that of his strike colleagues.
Chelsea looked comfortable and gave added playing time to young midfielder Josh McEachran, who came on with 15 minutes remaining and once more showed his impressive ability to keep the ball.
However, with just five minutes remaining Blackpool scored a consolation goal after sloppy play from Bosingwa saw him surrender possession to Stephen Crainey who found James Beattie.
Beattie then picked out the lively Puncheon in the penalty area and the winger fired a low shot past Cech into the far corner, ensuring that Blackpool continued their remarkable record of scoring in every home match.
The Tangerines fought right until the final whistle, but in the end this result will leave them looking even more nervously over their shoulder at the sides below them.
On the other hand, Chelsea’s hopes of mounting a title challenge, albeit still a slight one, will have increased after this weekend’s events.
This victory, coupled with other results, has seen them move nine points behind league-leaders Manchester United, with a game in hand and a trip to Old Trafford still to come.