Last beaten by Manchester City exactly a year ago, the champions have now completed the equivalent of a Premiership season - 38 games - without defeat. It is too early to talk about the possibility of matching Arsenal's unbeaten campaign of two years ago, but Tottenham's record of 11 straight wins from the off in 1960 would be equalled with victories over Everton and Blackburn in the next fortnight.
Like the Spurs Double team, they are a class above the rest, a fact acknowledged by Bolton's Sam Allardyce, whose team had achieved a 2-2 draw here last autumn. "To get a result here you need a slice of luck," he said. "If you score first, you might have a chance, but in the last five minutes, not the first. They're a great team with a great manager, but they're still human."
Allardyce, torn between playing up to the stereotype of Big Fat Sam the long-ball man, or acknowledging something more sophisticated, had looked forward to the challenge of mixing it with Mourinho again. He was even bold enough to reveal before the game that a key to playing Chelsea was to clamp down on Claude Makelele, whom he had once recorded having possession 98 times in a match.
Kevin Nolan or Gary Speed were upon the Frenchman as soon as he received the ball, which went some way to explaining why Chelsea initially struggled in the sunshine. Keeping Stelios Giannakopoulos and El Hadji Diouf out wide to pump crosses in worked equally well in the first half and brought a goal within four minutes. Henrik Pedersen, a fish out of water at left-back, made his one positive contribution by feeding Diouf, who clipped a clever low ball between John Terry and Del Horno. The Spaniard appeared to slip, allowing Giannakopoulos to collect the ball six yards out and guide it calmly past Petr Cech. It might have been worse by half-time, the ageless Speed hitting a fizzing drive from way out that beat Cech and struck the frame of the goal.
Didier Drogba was rightly given offside after tapping in a cross by Shaun Wright-Phillips and the subdued home crowd's displeasure was reflected at the interval when the 71-year-old former England winger Frank Blunstone, a star of the 1955 championship side, was introduced to them. "Bring him on" was the chant. Instead, Mourinho turned to Gudjohnsen, taking Del Horno off, briefly settling for three men at the back and reaping a dramatic reward. Six minutes after the resumption, Michael Essien was fouled by Rahdi Jaidi, and when Jussi Jaaskelainen could only parry Frank Lampard's fierce free-kick, Drogba reacted fastest and knocked in the rebound.
Drogba was suddenly on fire and Bolton felt the heat again two minutes later. As Gudjohnsen laid off Makelele's pass to him, the Ivorian found Lampard well placed to strike his seventh goal of the season. Three more minutes and the visitors committed suicide. Gardner, brought on for the hapless Pedersen before half-time, jumped like a basketball player to handle, preventing Wright-Phillips from stealing in behind him, and was rightly dismissed. Worse, from the free-kick, there was a huge gap on the left of the defensive wall, which Lampard exploited to curl his shot into the half of the goal not covered by a perplexed Jaaskelainen.
Next it was Drogba again, meeting Lampard's corner with a half-volley for the fourth goal in nine minutes. It was a full 13 minutes more before Gudjohnsen, sent clear by Makelele, scored the fifth, and Bolton kept it to that. The crowd, meanwhile, had changed their tune to: "Stand up for the Special One." For once, the great man looked almost embarrassed. "I did my work, but you win matches on the pitch," he said later.
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