Dominant Blues too good to be caught, says Robson

Click to follow
The Independent Online

John Terry's carefree comment at the weekend that Jose Mourinho now expected Chelsea not merely to beat their opposition but to "annihilate" them had been enough to leave the visiting manager, Bryan Robson, in one of his growly moods.

John Terry's carefree comment at the weekend that Jose Mourinho now expected Chelsea not merely to beat their opposition but to "annihilate" them had been enough to leave the visiting manager, Bryan Robson, in one of his growly moods.

"It winds me up, and hopefully it will wind my players up too," the former Manchester United midfielder said. "I want my players to be looking at each other and promising to make this the hardest game we can possibly give them. They will be the first to fall flat on their faces if they do not get results."

Although his relegation strugglers were unable to reduce the aspirant Premiership champions to the prone position, their industry, combined with Chelsea's profligacy in front of goal, was enough to make a serious match of it on an evening which was about domination rather than annihilation.

Mourinho's pre-match comments in the programme were appropriately uninhibited as he pointed out that the home side had gone unbeaten at home for more than a year, having registered 16 victories at Stamford Bridge since he took over.

"There's six more home League games and we're aiming at two more Champions' League home games," he wrote. "So we can go as high as 24 home wins in one season. I believe we can achieve this."

Given what we already know of our man in Armani, what other prediction could be expected? Suggestions that Arjen Robben might make a return after recovering from his foot injury proved illusory, as he was not even on the bench.

But with Damien Duff all darting devilment on the left, and Joe Cole operating effectively in the right-sided Robben zone, Chelsea were hardly struggling in the Dutchman's absence.

Albion's supporters began the game with the insouciance of those who had nothing to lose, and as Chelsea began to subject their goal to a heavy barrage, they greeted each near miss with rueful grins and wide, wavery arm movements.

When Cole, Lampard and Duff finally combined to pull their defence to pieces in the 26th minute, allowing Didier Drogba to slam in an opening goal, Albion were teetering on the brink of serious embarrassment.

But as the plastic-panelled tunnel entrance had made its priapic incursion to the playing area for the first time, Albion had stabilised things to the point where they were able to accept a warm greeting from their home fans behind the benches without any sense of irony. The visiting fans may have been whistling in the dark, but their tune had grown stronger.

Mourinho's continuing confidence was evident as Albion pressed for an equaliser, gesturing impatiently to Duff to remain up front alongside Drogba.

But his assurance was disturbed in the course of the second half as Drogba, first with a shot, then with a header, missed chances that might have earned him a hat-trick.

And when the unpredictable figure of Kanu thudded a goalbound volley into the forehead of Chelsea defender Robert Huth after 71 minutes, there was a surge of the kind of excitement which the home side did not even want to contemplate.

Comments