With the side from the West Midlands visitors to the Bridge today, club historian Rick Glanvill turns the clock back to the start of the decade and a deluge of goals…
One of football’s most player-friendly coaches, Carlo Ancelotti, made a rare public demonstration of authority ahead of the Premier League visit of Aston Villa in March 2010.
Didier Drogba arrived half an hour late for the pre-game briefing and as a result the Italian changed his line-up, replacing the prolific Ivorian with Nicolas Anelka.
This was not punishment for tardiness, he explained, but simply because the striker had missed out on the detailed tactical instructions given to the rest of the squad.
With the race for the title so tight between leaders Manchester United, the Blues in second, and Arsenal in third, Ancelotti may have been questioning his own wisdom after half an hour, when Villa equalised Frank Lampard’s opener, struck 15 minutes earlier.
Not that the travelling fans cared about that. They loudly serenaded their Norwegian goalscorer with ‘John Carew, my lord, John Carew’ to the tune of ‘Kumbaya’.
Just before the break, though, Russia left-back Yury Zhirkov was clipped by James Collins and Lampard drilled in the penalty to establish a 2-1 half-time lead.
Ancelotti’s side made a habit of punishing opponents with a prolific flurry in front of goal – Portsmouth were beaten 5-0 at home the previous weekend, and there would be 7-0 and 8-0 victories before the season’s close.
So it was against Villa, with five goals in the second 45: two more for Frank Lampard (including another from the spot), two for Florent Malouda and one for Salomon Kalou, who came on as a sub instead of Drogba.
He did not appear on the scoresheet, but last-minute insert Anelka’s astute runs and linking play were key factors in the Blues’ success. ‘To say he [Drogba] was not missed is an understatement,’ claimed the BBC Sport match report.
Memorably, the final score also allowed Blues fans some comeback at Villa fans’ Carew song with the refrain: ‘Seven-one, my lord, seven-one… ’