Sturridge looks the finished article
Bolton Wanderers 3 West Ham United 0
Monday 11 April 2011
The news of a West Ham loss would normally elicit an ironic cheer from those punters residing in the Stamford Bridge area of London but Chelsea's fans were likely not smiling when news of the capitulation of Avram Grant's side filtered through.
Chelsea supporters, having watched their team scrape past the bottom club Wigan, will have heard that Daniel Sturridge, their young player, was the man responsible for putting West Ham to the sword.
As Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba continue to play like strangers, the news that Sturridge, on loan at Bolton, was scoring goals five and six for his new side invariably raised questions as to why his manager, Carlo Ancelotti, had let him go.
"I think Daniel Sturridge can go and play in any team," said the Bolton manager, Owen Coyle. "He is not 30 years of age, he is a kid who is going to get better each and every year. It is my belief that Sturridge can go into the Chelsea team tomorrow and score goals. That is my belief. Carlo Ancelotti might look at him and say he is not quite ready yet. But I think he is ready to play for me.
"I would love to have Daniel back next year but the way things are going, it seems highly unlikely. If I thought I could sign him I would have done already. But Chelsea aren't daft. They know the quality they have."
Sturridge's fine finishes, one in each half – with a Lee Chung-yong header in between – enabled Bolton to amble past a West Ham side so poor that it defied belief.
The aggressive spat between Mark Noble and Robert Green after Sturridge's 14th-minute opener – a wonderful, curled effort from 20 yards – was the only indication that any fight remains at West Ham.
Their first-half defending was nothing short of an embarrassment, allowing Sturridge, Kevin Davies, Johan Elmander and Martin Petrov to run the game entirely. It felt like an exhibition and looked like a testimonial.
Lee's finish was preceded by a beautiful Petrov cross from the left, which allowed the South Korean simply to head past Green to finish the game as a competitive event within the opening 20 minutes.
Lee was perhaps the smallest player on the pitch. But, then, how tall do you have to be when you are entirely unmarked?
The second half brought no salvation for West Ham. Sturridge doubled his tally to kill off the contest before squandering two fine late chances to complete a hat-trick.
Ironically enough, West Ham played their best when 3-0 down as Demba Ba went close on two occasions. But the reason they played like a side doomed to relegation is because that is exactly what they are.
Scorers: Bolton Sturridge 14, 51, Lee 20
Substitutes: Bolton Taylor (Lee, 79), Rodrigo (Petrov, 79), Klasnic (K Davies, 82). West Ham Jacobsen 6 (Upson, h/t), Cole 6 (Piquionne, h/t), Spector (Parker, 76).
Booked: Bolton Cahill.
Man of the match Sturridge. Match rating 6/10.
Possession Bolton 57% West Ham 43%.
Shots on target Bolton 12 West Ham 8.
Referee L Probert (Wiltshire).
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