AVB: Lamps still fighting for his place

Chelsea 3 Bolton Wanderers 0

Stamford Bridge

Whether or not Roman Abramovich's inclination is to dispense with Andre Villas-Boas as Chelsea manager, his work is not entirely unappreciated by the club's hierarchy. The American chairman Bruce Buck listened in on the press conference after Saturday's comfortable victory as he often does and immediately offered "congratulations, Andre" on his way out. Buck had greeted the three goals that sank a feeble Bolton side with greater enthusiasm than the club's owner, who could barely raise a smile whenever the cameras homed in on him .

Villas-Boas looked and sounded understandably happier, even if a stubborn streak refused to acknowledge that he had picked the wrong team for last week's 3-1 defeat in Naples, seriously threatening Abramovich's greatest ambition, to win the Champions League. His explanation was essentially one of horses for courses, insisting that whereas two defensive midfielders were required for the 4-2-3-1 formation in Italy, Saturday's task was better suited to Chelsea's familiar old 4-3-3. That still did not quite explain the choice of personnel. Piqued or not, Frank Lampard came roaring back with a vintage performance, Michael Essien confirmed that he is still far more dynamic than Jon Obi Mikel and Ashley Cole made nonsense of any suggestion that Jose Bosingwa or Ryan Bertrand deserve the left-back berth.

It should of course be pointed out, at risk of making one of the understatements of the season, that Bolton are not Napoli. Even so they frustrated Chelsea and the home crowd until early in the second half, when defensive laxity allowed goals to David Luiz, Didier Drogba and then Lampard. Captain in John Terry's continued absence and wearing it well, Lampard led from the front, or the middle, making the late surging runs of old. He then felt emboldened to go just far enough in answering questions about his relationship with a manager who is only eight months his senior, saying: "It's not been ideal but the important thing is not to focus on individual situations because that can only be turned into a negative."

It was a clever response, followed by a reminder of how much Chelsea supporters appreciate a player who on Saturday reached 125 League goals for the club: "The way the fans were with me was amazing. It's lump-in-the-throat stuff when they sing your name like that."

Villas-Boas was prepared to acknowledge Lampard as "a fighter for his place" without guaranteeing him one at West Bromwich this Saturday and would have agreed with his captain's sentiments that: "There's been a lot of times this season where we've won a game and said 'we've turned the corner' but we haven't done it. So now we need to do it properly. This has to be the start, not another false dawn." The West Midlands will witness which of those possibilities proves to be the case, with an FA Cup replay at Birmingham following the trip to the Hawthorns. Then Stoke arrive at Stamford Bridge before Napoli four days later.

Bolton must endure a visit to Manchester City but then have a run of games against fellow strugglers that Owen Coyle believes can see them towards safety. They will need to be much tighter in defence, where the American Tim Ream did not enjoy his first Premier League appearance; this could easily have been a repeat of last October's 5-1 home defeat by Chelsea, except that Bolton never looked likely to score at all. Their former centre-half Gary Cahill had an easy afternoon in the absence of his great friend Kevin Davies.

Coyle said: "We've no doubt we've got good enough players to go win games. I appreciate everybody likes negative stories but the time for debating will be the end of the season." Villas-Boas just hopes to hang on that long. Linked with Internazionale on Saturday, Porto yesterday, his attitude is that he is looking forward to continuing the Chelsea "project" next season.

Match details



Scorers: Chelsea Luiz 48, Drogba 61, Lampard 79. Substitutes: Chelsea Torres (Drogba, 76), Kalou (Sturridge, 80), Mikel (Ramires, 88). Bolton Wanderers Sordell 5 (Ngog, 65), Eagles (Tuncay, 75).

Booked: Bolton Pratley.

Man of the match Lampard. Match rating 6/10.

Possession: Chelsea 60% Bolton 40%.

Attempts on target: Chelsea 16 Bolton 1.

Referee M Oliver (Northumberland).

Attendance 40,999.

David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments