Chelsea on Saturday delivered a frightening display of their strength, and a mesmerising insight into what their future may hold. Despite missing Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba, the league leaders dispatched Wolverhampton with a relentless tenacity which added yet more evidence to the growing belief that the Premier League title is once again heading to Stamford Bridge.
Their future prospects looked almost as impressive, particularly in regard to a bewitching half-hour debut by Gaël Kakuta, the 18-year-old at the centre of Chelsea's transfer ban saga.
Standing just 5ft 8in tall, Kakuta entered the arena to loud cheers to replace Nicolas Anelka on the hour. His first touch was horrid – a hospital pass to Juliano Belletti – but from that moment on his eye-catching football was wonderful to witness.
Here was a lad who has a God-given talent for the beautiful game, and who relished the opportunity to show it. The teenager took such positive delight in finally being able to play in the first team, as his four-month suspension, along with Chelsea's transfer ban, has been temporarily lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of Chelsea's behaviour in recruiting young players, two things were made abundantly clear on Saturday. Firstly, Kakuta possesses a glorious, rare ability with a ball at his feet. Secondly, it was needlessly cruel of Fifa to ban the teenager from playing for four months.
In his half-hour performance Kakuta showed enough to suggest Carlo Ancelotti's description of him as the best 18-year-old he has ever seen, may not be simply managerial hyperbole. He almost scored twice – once with a shimmy and a shot, and later with a long-range effort that missed the goal by a foot. However it was his ability to make the right decision nine times out of 10 that lifted his display above what might normally be expected of an 18-year-old debutant.
So much has been written about this young Frenchman that at times it has seemed his name has become Gaël Kakuta Scandal. One team-mate who does have three names, John Obi Mikel, understands the situation, having been caught up in a whirlwind of controversy with his own disputed transfer from Norwegian club Lyn Oslo in 2006. Mikel said of Kakuta: "I spoke to him about it because he knew what had happened to me. I tried to tell him to calm down and to continue working hard in training, and hopefully everything is going to be fine. I believe in him. He is a fantastic player.
"When you are young, a lot of people are getting into your head. It was too much pressure but I just had to shut everyone up and just concentrate and see what happens in the end. That's what Gaël has to do. When I started playing, it was such a relief, I was so happy. I think it's the same with Gaël.
"When he came on, you could see how relieved he was, how free he was, running around the pitch. You can see he's hungry, he wants to play, he wants to show the fans what he's got and he did that. In terms of skill, I think he is the best at the club. The sort of things he does in training, they come naturally. When he's got the ball, he knows what to do, the skills just come. We try to kick him whenever he does it. That's the only way to stop him."
Kakuta was one of three young substitutes used by Ancelotti, the others being midfielder Nemanja Matic and striker Fabio Borini. The last youth team prospect to become a first-team regular at Chelsea was John Terry almost a decade ago but Ancelotti believes all three have the potential to follow him. "I think they have a lot of possibilities to do a career with Chelsea. It depends on them, it doesn't depend on me," Ancelotti said.
Chelsea were superb against a Wolves side that kept trying but was simply out of its depth. Florent Malouda, enjoying possibly his best match for Chelsea since he joined in 2007, started the scoring with a spectacular solo goal. The Frenchman picked up the ball in midfield and as the defenders backed off, he let rip with a shot from 25 yards that was only ever going to hit the top corner of the goal.
Michael Essien headed in a corner and then saw his speculative shot squeeze under the Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey as Chelsea went 3-0 up. The fourth came from Joe Cole, his first for more than a year, after Salomon Kalou teed him up.
The Wolves manager Mick McCarthy was brutally frank. "Let's put our chips on the table. We look like a team that can get relegated," he said.
Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Cech; Belletti, Alex, Terry, A Cole; Mikel; Essien, J Cole, Malouda (Matic, 69); Anelka (Kakuta, 59), Kalou (Borin, 78). Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Ivanovic, Zhirkov, Ferreira.
Wolverhampton (4-5-1): Hennessey; Halford, Craddock, Berra, Stearman; Edwards, Surman, Henry, Castillo (Kightly, 53), Jarvis; Ebanks-Blake (Keogh, 62). Substitutes not used: Hahnemann (gk), Elokobi, Milijas, Foley, Maierhofer.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
Booked: Wolves Craddock, Keogh.
Man of the match: Malouda.
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