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What The Papers Say - 16 October

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

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The People

 

 

Everton boss David Moyes is looking at Belgium striker Marvin Ogunjimi.

Moyes watched the Genk hitman in action for his country against Germany last week and is keen on the 24-year-old as he puts together a shortlist of potential attacking targets.

Supremo Bill Kenwright has given Moyes a pledge that there will be cash for a forward - with insiders revealing Moyes had the funds at the end of the last deadline.

Ogunjimi, who has scored five times in seven games for Belgium, would cost around £3million from Racing Genk who could be forced to sell.

The powerful front-runner was close to signing for Spanish side Real Mallorca before the last transfer deadline but the deal collapsed because paperwork was not completed on time.

Ogunjimi had set his heart on a move to La Liga but has also admitted he would be interested in playing in the Premier League.

Moyes has also been keeping tabs on Switzerland pair Eren Derdiyok and Fabian Frei. Derdiyok is a rising star at Bayer Leverkusen but the 23-year-old would be expensive.

Frei, 22, scored for Basel against Manchester United in the Champions League last month but is more of a wide man than centre forward.

Moyes is also watching ¬developments with Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan in the Middle East.

The Sunderland striker was a target before he took his ¬lucrative loan move to Al-Ain.

As revealed by People Sport last month, Gyan would face a massive tax bill if he returns to British shores within a year.

But Moyes is keeping tabs in case he wants to come back to the Premier League.


The People

 

CHELSEA won't be at Stamford Bridge for many more years if Roman Abramovich gets his way - perhaps that's why Juan Mata seems in such a rush to leave his mark on this ¬famous old ground.

The 23-year-old was mesmerising yesterday and left Everton chasing shadows in the evening kick-off as his explosive start to life in the Premier League continued apace.

Mata capped a special display by playing a major role in the Blues' first and third goals and helped his side close the gap to just a point on ¬Manchester United.

Daniel Sturridge, John Terry and Ramires were on target, while Apostolos Vellios struck a late reply for Everton less than a ¬minute after ¬coming on.

But it was Mata whose name was on every Chelsea fans' lips as they drifted home.

He ¬certainly gave them a lift after many were upset by the proposals to move away from Stamford Bridge, which surfaced during the ¬recent international break.

No doubt owner Abramovich will have seen the banner around the stadium prior to kick-off which ¬declared ‘This Is Our Home' and the other held aloft which simply read ‘CPO say NO' as he made his way to his seat.

It didn't make for quite as ¬comfortable viewing as the Chelsea hierarchy will have had while ¬watching Manchester United's draw at Liverpool earlier in the day, ¬although Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas was keen to stress he does not consider a 1-1 scoreline at Anfield as points dropped.

The Portuguese, who celebrates his 34th birthday tomorrow, said: "I think a point at Anfield is something any manager takes when you are in title contention, and I'm sure Alex Ferguson feels the same.

"So it was an important point for Manchester United. It gives us a possibility to be closer to them, but of course we still have to go to Anfield."

That's not something Chelsea should fear in this sort of form.

Everton boss David Moyes, whose side had only lost one of their last nine games against the Blues, said he felt Chelsea have caused them more problems in the past but, even if that is the case, the scoreline and the performance was emphatic.

The visitors defended solidly for half an hour but Chelsea, inspired by their Spanish magician, finally worked their way through.

Mata clipped a ¬perfectly weighted pass into the path of overlapping left-back Ashley Cole, whose cross was forced home by Sturridge.

Chelsea added a ¬second in first-half stoppage-time from a Frank Lampard free-kick. Terry ¬applied the header to the cross to beat Tim Howard.

Leon Osman threatened with a curling effort after the break which would have put a ¬different slant on the second half, but the ball went agonisingly wide and Chelsea soon settled back into their rhythm.

Again Drogba and Mata ¬combined and, when the Spaniard sent over a low cross, Ramires raced on to the end of it to put the game beyond Everton.

Ramires went over on a knee as he scored the goal, but Chelsea hope he will be fit for QPR next week at the latest, maybe even Genk in the Champions League in midweek.

Vellios pulled one back for Everton but it was never going to affect the outcome of the game.

Villas-Boas said: "It was a good win for us. It was important after the international break to get three points on the board immediately.

"We were patient in our build-up and it was decisive to get our second goal just before half-time."

The Portuguese rarely comments on individuals, but Sturridge was happy to heap praise on Mata even if his manager was not.

He said: "Mata gives something every game and he runs so hard all the time.

"He creates a lot of chances and is a great acquisition."

Moyes endorsed Sturridge's opinion of Mata, though he felt his side's ¬defending also contributed to their downfall.

He said: "The second goal was the killer. I actually thought we didn't play too badly, but there were a ¬couple of lapses defensively.

"Mata has given Chelsea a different dimension, they're more flexible than they have been in the past."

 

The Observer

 

 

André Villas-Boas does not come across as a man who would welcome any undue fuss for a birthday.

He turns 34 on Monday, and has no special plans.

"Work. Maybe dinner with my wife," he said a little reluctantly after watching a routine victory for his new team. But his present may well come in the week ahead. Chelsea meet the Belgian champions, Genk, on Wednesday, and then on a derby weekend are looking to close ground on at least one of the Manchester clubs as United and City lock horns while they drop in at Loftus Road.

They may not be in full swing yet but Chelsea are in a very handy position. It must be comforting for Villas-Boas to be able to mould his team - this selection did the business without the suspended Fernando Torres and the rested David Luiz and allowed for another cameo from Oriol Romeu - while maintaining a 100% success rate at home. Three goals poached from inside the six-yard box, three points, thank you and goodnight.

"Fine-tuning" is how Villas-Boas defines Chelsea's current situation. "The amount of games we have will help the team to play better. We have not done anything special. We have to keep going to find a position of comfort at the top of the table. That's where we want to be."

For Everton, a third consecutive defeat was demoralising, all the more so as they were not without hope that they could eke out a result here, having journeyed south with an excellent record at Stamford Bridge. They duly began without inhibitions. Petr Cech made a fumbling save, and Mikel John Obi made an exemplary defensive intervention to prevent Marouane Fellaini from having a free shot.

Early on Chelsea struggled to get a foothold. Didier Drogba led the line without the power of his prime, potshots came from distance, but from unusual suspects such as José Bosingwa and Ashley Cole. No danger.

No panic, either. All of a sudden, two slick passes changed everything. Juan Mata switched possession to Cole, whose cross hung beautifully to allow Daniel Sturridge to nod Chelsea ahead from close range.

His fourth goal of the season was greeted appreciatively in the Shed, who chanted "Sturridge for England".

In first-half stoppage time Frank Lampard was the architect of Chelsea's second, with a perfectly flighted free-kick into the heart of the penalty area. John Terry bulldozed in front of Tim Howard to direct his header into the net.

"A killer," rued Moyes, who was disappointed that poor defending helped Chelsea on their way. That was the opposite to the foundation of all Everton's positive results here in recent seasons. "I don't know what the difference was," he mused. "Maybe that 400 million difference turned up after 20 minutes, eh?"

One of the players who was recruited at the kind of fee beyond Everton's means was the lively and intelligent Mata, who gave Chelsea a new dimension. Just after the hour mark the Spaniard steered in a cross from the left, and Ramires timed his run for another close-range finish. Unfortunately for the in-form Brazilian, he took a knock on the knee in the process of scoring, and hobbled off, although Villas-Boas dismissed any worries afterwards.

Everton still found it in them to respond, when the substitute Apostolos Vellios slid in a footnote with his first touch seconds after coming on. But there would be no more drama.

With a home record as powerful as Chelsea's in recent years, as well as all the heartstrings that are attached to the place, it is little wonder the most traditional of fans are resistant to the idea of moving from Stamford Bridge. Following the club's noises about tying up loose ends in terms of housekeeping, fans outside the ground were leafleted. "If we lose this battle, the club can relocate ANYWHERE without any consultation with supporters," wrote the Say No CPO group, which is campaigning against the sale of the Stamford Bridge pitch from a fans' body to the club.

Inside, a little banner swirled over the heads of the crowd beneath Roman Abramovich's box: "This is our home." It was not exactly mutiny, but it was something, even if it must have made Everton's supporters wonder.

Decrying ambitions to upgrade facilities paid for by their billionaire benefactor? They could only wish to have that complaint.

The Daily Star


DANIEL STURRIDGE for England? That was the cry at Stamford Bridge.

And in a week where Fabio Capello learned that Wayne Rooney will miss the first three games of Euro 2012, Sturridge staked his claim to fill in.

His opening goal was his fourth in as many games this season - as many as Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka ... combined!

The Chelsea striker has yet to play for Capello's side but impressed with the Under-21s and deserves a chance to prove his worth.

He used his head to set the ball rolling and John Terry did likewise, before Ramires piled on the agony for Everton, who only scored late on through Apostolos Vellios.

So it was a case of many happy returns for Andre Villas-Boas, who did what Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink and Luis Felipe Scolari couldn't against the Toffees.

Avram Grant was the last Chelsea manager to engineer a Premier League win against David Moyes and Co. way back in April 2008.

So victory here was a nice early birthday present for Villas-Boas, who turns 34 tomorrow.

Recent history suggested Everton had become something of a bogey side for Chelsea.

The Toffees travelled to west London having not lost in their last six league games against them.

But the home side had started the season with a 100 per cent record in their own back yard, so something had to give.

Jack Rodwell's ludicrous red card in the Merseyside derby was quickly overturned so he stayed in an unchanged line-up.

And Everton made a bright start, giving Chelsea no time to settle.

Petr Cech was forced into an early save from Louis Saha. It then took a superb saving tackle from John Obi Mikel to deny Marouane Fellaini a point-blank effort after good work from Leighton Baines.

But Chelsea went ahead against the run of play in the 31st minute from a well-worked move.

Ashley Cole got in behind Seamus Coleman to chip a juicy ball into the box and Sturridge met it with a bullet header which Tim Howard was powerless to stop.

And it was 2-0 before half time when Coleman tripped Cole to concede a needless free kick which Frank Lampard swung into the box.

This time it was Terry who rose to head it home. Howard did not cover himself in glory, flapping at the cross but neither did Fellaini, whose attempted challenge was feeble.

Terry became only the fifth player to make 350 league appearances for Chelsea, and he slid along the turf in celebration.

What Everton lack in quality they more than make up for in spirit and Leon Osman hit the outside of the post seconds after the restart.

But it was all over when Ramires turned in No.3 from close range after Rodwell went to sleep, allowing Juan Mata to pick out the Brazilian.

That rendered substitute Vellios' late strike - sliding on to a cross from fellow sub Royston Drenthe - little more than a consolation for the visitors.

You had to feel sorry for cash-strapped Everton, who lost their third game in a row against the Premier League's big spenders.

It was the first time they had lost three on the spin since November 2009 - and they will hope for better when they meet Chelsea again in the Carling Cup.

The Daily Star

 

 

EVERTON boss David Moyes isn't in a position at the moment to compete at the highest level in the transfer market.

But he is delighted about his latest signing for an initial fee of £170,000 - midfielder George Green who is only 15.

Everton have agreed a deal with Bradford City which could eventually rise to £1.6million.

And Moyes would be delighted to pay it because it would mean Green had fulfilled his exciting potential.

Such was his reputation that he was also wanted by Tottenham, Arsenal, Glasgow Rangers and even Bayern Munich.

But Green will now become a full-time member of Everton's academy next summer when he is 16.

He is the latest product of Bradford's successful youth system which recently has produced Manchester United's Tom Cleverley, Aston Villa's Fabian Delph and Andre Wisdom at Liverpool.

The Sunday Telegraph

 

 

Juan Mata breezed into Stamford Bridge at the same time as Chelsea's pursuit of Luka Modric was finally stymied by Spurs, but it looks like Andre Villas-Boas has finally found the creative force the club's supporters have been crying out for.

Mata hit the ground running with a goal in his first game, a cameo appearance against Norwich, but the skilful Spaniard is now dictating events to such
an extent that Chelsea were able to end Everton's five-year unbeaten run in the League at Stamford Bridge. Mata set up two goals and brought to mind Tommy Smith's description of Ossie Ardiles in his prime: "It was like trying to tackle dust."

Mata was here, there and everywhere, coming inside from wide and setting up chances for his team-mates, as Everton manager David Moyes was quick to recognise.

"Mata has improved Chelsea the way David Silva has at Manchester City. He has given them a different dimension."

Villas-Boas does not like to single out individuals, preferring to emphasise the team ethic, and the Chelsea manager said: "The talent in the squad is so immense, and our job is to allow them to express themselves."

Daniel Sturridge was less coy: "Juan gives something every game and he runs so hard all the time. He creates a lot of chances."
It was Mata's finely judged forward pass that allowed Ashley Cole to cross from the left for Sturridge to head Chelsea ahead with his fourth goal of the season.

It was harsh on Everton, but Chelsea doubled their advantage in first-half stoppage time when Frank Lampard swung in a free-kick from the left and John Terry climbed highest to head home a goal to celebrate his 350th league appearance for the club.

That effectively put the game beyond Everton's reach, but the visitors kept fighting. Leon Osman twice went close early in the second half before Mata intervened again to finish the game as a contest.

The former Valencia midfielder found Didier Drogba in a central position and took a return pass wide on the left. His low cross was enough to evade goalkeeper Tim Howard and allow the onrushing Ramires to beat Leighton Baines and Sylvain Distin to the ball and drive it into the net from close range.

The Brazilian's elation was cut short as he soon limped off, having injured his knee as he scored, but the fact that his replacement was Florent Malouda demonstrated the sort of talent Villas-Boas has in reserve.

"We started well but fell away - perhaps it was a squad worth £400 million," said Moyes with a rueful smile.

Everton did at least get one goal back, when substitute Apostolos Vellios scored with his first touch of the ball after replacing Louis Saha in the 81st minute, diverting Royston Drenthe's low cross past Petr Cech from close range.

But it was too little too late to save Everton's proud league record at Stamford Bridge, and the result ensured Chelsea kept in touch with the Manchester clubs ahead of them. They are now one behind United, who meet leaders City next weekend.

Before that, there are Champions League fixtures, with Chelsea at home to Belgian side Genk on Wednesday. Villas-Boas, who turns 34 tomorrow and has just celebrated two years in management, welcomes the chance for his new-look team to get more used to each other.

"There is some fine-tuning to be done, but we always said the fluency and the number of games we have coming up will help the team because they will play together more and more in match situations rather than training."

[page]

The Independant on Sunday

 

 

Chelsea may be facing a disagreement with some of their own pitch owners over the future of Stamford Bridge, but on the playing surface itself all continues to go smoothly.

Their fourth win out of four home games in the Premier League allowed them to keep pace with Manchester City, the leaders, and close to within a point of second-placed Manchester United, who had drawn with Liverpool at lunchtime.

Perhaps significantly, they beat opponents who have been a thorn in their side here recently. This was Chelsea's first home three-point haul against Everton since April 2006, and ended a run of six League matches between the clubs without a Chelsea win - Chelsea's longest run without a victory against another Premier League club since Roman Abramovich bought them in 2003.

After a quiet opening, Juan Mata turned the match in Chelsea's favour and engineered the opening goal, scored by Daniel Sturridge. Strikes by John Terry, on his 350th Premier League appearance for the club, and Ramires made the game safe, though Chelsea will be frustrated to be denied their first clean sheet since the opening day of the season by Apostolos Vellios's late strike.

Chelsea were without Fernando Torres, who was serving the second match of a three-game suspension, and rested David Luiz after the defender had played two matches for Brazil during the international week. Raul Meireles, who had previously started every League game since joining Chelsea from Liverpool late in the summer transfer window, was benched.

Tim Cahill had shaken off an ankle injury that forced his withdrawal from the Australia squad and kept his place in an unchanged Everton side.

The normally prolific Cahill was in search of his first Everton goal of 2011, and had called for the Toffees to show fighting spirit after losing to Manchester City and Liverpool. They began in enterprising fashion, with Seamus Coleman pushing up on Ashley Cole, twice catching him in possession. Then Louis Saha cut inside Jose Bosingwa on the left and hit an angled shot that Petr Cech clutched at the second attempt.

Chelsea also had their moments early on but there was precious little in the way of goalmouth action in the first 25 minutes. Phil Jakielka got away with a nudge on Didier Drogba after the Ivory Coast forward had turned him 20 yards out, and Tony Hibbert almost presented Frank Lampard with a shooting chance after losing the flight of a dropping ball.

So far, Chelsea had not exactly picked up the gauntlet flung down earlier by Manchester City in their 4-1 beating of Aston Villa. They needed some inspiration and urgency, and the promise of it began to appear as Mata started to move inside and get more involved.

The promise was fulfilled when Mata spotted Ashley Cole's run down the left channel. The Spain winger's chipped pass over the defence was perfectly timed as Cole sprinted clear of Coleman and Hibbert, the England left-back half-volleying the ball across goal for Sturridge to head home his fourth League goal of the season.

If that goal was beautifully worked, Chelsea's second, in first-half injury time, was basic training-ground stuff that must have infuriated David Moyes, the Everton manager. Coleman fouled Cole, Lampard curled his free-kick in from the left and Terry rose to get a decisive touch in front of Tim Howard, the ball going in off the goalkeeper's fists.

Having scored only once away from home all season, Everton must have known that they faced the steepest of uphill struggles. They needed a quick reply and it almost came in the opening seconds of the second half, Leon Osman's curling first-time shot clipping the outside of the post.

But instead of forcing Chelsea back, Everton began to give ground and the home side claimed the majority of the possession. It did not seem good enough for Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, whose body language expressed extravagant disgust and displeasure at times, but the Stamford Bridge crowd enjoyed it, and after 61 minutes they had another goal to cheer. Drogba began it, receiving the ball in the centre circle and setting off towards goal. He strode forward before feeding Mata on the left.

His low cross was met by Ramires, who showed far more determination to reach the ball than either Sylvain Distin or Leighton Baines and was rewarded with his third goal of the campaign.

The substitute Vellios pulled a goal back with his first touch after 81 minutes, sliding home Royston Drenthe's low cross to become their first player to score more than once this season. Therein lies Everton's problem.

The Sunday Times

 

 

Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, will celebrate his 34th birthday tomorrow, most probably by taking his wife to dinner. A clinical victory over a spark-free Everton made a handsome early gift.

"We've done nothing special yet," the current Special One cautioned. "We've beaten the teams we're supposed to beat. That's all."

A lacklustre Everton had no response once they fell behind, but their manager, David Moyes, blew away the clouds of doom. "We didn't play that badly, apart from two defensive lapses. They had a lot of possession, so when we got the ball we lacked energy."

Such is the surfeit of draws thrown up by this fixture that while Chelsea had not beaten Everton in the league at Stamford Bridge since 2006, the last time Everton triumphed in the blue corner of SW6 was when Paul Rideout scored the winner back in 1994.

Nine goals in their two previous Premier League games ensured Chelsea went into the international break in good heart and their troops returned intact, bar the rested David Luiz. The Fernando Torres conundrum was sidestepped by his suspension.

Everton were predictably in patient, storm-weathering mode. They harried Chelsea's every move like a pack of yapping terriers. They were careful not to commit men forward but eager to pull them back whenever the home side crossed the halfway line.

This bus-parking was hardly a novel approach from visitors to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea, the Bobby Fischer to Everton's Boris Spassky, were not to be rushed either. They slowly purred into life like a nearly new Rolls-Royce but their first meaningful attack brought a goal from another, more aesthetically pleasing, planet.

Juan Mata picked out the overlapping Ashley Cole, whose sumptuous pull-back wrong-footed the Everton rearguard. Daniel Sturridge crept in behind Leighton Baines to head his fourth goal of the season and his first league strike at Stamford Bridge since April 2010.

The visitors' plans lay in ruins and they seemed unsure how to rebuild them. In stoppage time at the end of the half, Chelsea went two ahead. Seamus Coleman fouled Cole on the left, Tim Howard made a terrible hash of Frank Lampard's free kick and John Terry celebrated his 350th Premier League appearance by heading home.

The home side began to enjoy themselves, with Mata their cultured, inventive fulcrum, and the Spaniard was behind Chelsea's third. He found Didier Drogba on the halfway line and kept running.

Drogba hurtled forward and re-engaged Mata, who crossed for Ramires to score at the back post.

Ramires picked up a slight injury in scoring and hobbled off, but when Everton introduced Phil Neville you suspected their aim was solely damage limitation.

Instead they scored their first away goal from open play this season when, with his very first touch, Apostolos Vellios turned in a low cross from Royston Drenthe.

Sunday Mirror

 

 

Everton boss David Moyes is looking at Belgium striker Marvin Ogunjimi.

Moyes watched the Genk hitman in action for his country against Germany last week and is keen on the 24-year-old as he puts together a shortlist of potential attacking targets.

Sunday Mirror

 

 

Chelsea re-affirmed their status as serious title challengers with a conclusive win over Everton at Stamford Bridge.

Their ascent to third place in the Premier League has been the reward for a convincing start to the season that may have lacked the spectacular impression of the two ¬Manchester clubs.

But they will make sure the championship is anything but a two-horse race.
A late goal from Everton ¬substitute Apostolos Vellios gave the scoreline ¬respectability but the victory was emphatic.

In recent times, victories against Everton have been scarce where Chelsea have been concerned.

Not since the 2009 FA Cup Final have Chelsea enjoyed a win against the Merseysiders.

The surrender of the Premier League leadership by Manchester United some three hours earlier was an added incentive for Chelsea to break the pattern of results over the last two years.

Everton's initial resistance was organised and resolute. They swamped the midfield to deprive the likes of the hugely-gifted Juan Mata and the energetic Ramires of the time and space in which to operate.

But the Brazilian did manage to burst through on one occasion and it took the muscular intervention of Sylvain Distin to bring the run to an end.

But it was Everton who forced the game's first corner which Leighton Baines curled into a dangerous zone. It took a mighty punch from Petr Cech to clear while under pressure from Marouane Fellaini.

And after 12 minutes Louis Saha tested the Chelsea ¬goalkeeper again with a strike from 18 yards.

And still Chelsea struggled to turn their forward thrusts into clear-cut chances against the massed ranks of the Everton defence in which Distin was outstanding.

Everton's attempts to stop problems at source brought a problem for Fellaini in the 17th minute.

His clumsy challenge to stop Ramires earned him the game's first yellow card. It was, however, the only blemish on Everton's determined ¬defending which was halting Chelsea's progress before it could breach the danger zone. Indeed it was Jon Obi Mikel who needed to be alert in the 23rd minute as Fellaini gathered a cross from the industrious Leighton Baines.

As a physical contest, Phil Jagielka and Distin were ¬proving stronger than Didier Drogba - some feat.

And Jack Rodwell, the victim of such crass injustice against Liverpool when sent off, must have feared the worst when he challenged Ramires, who ¬immediately leapt into the air.

But referee Mike Jones was not fooled as easily as Martin Atkinson and not even a
free-kick was awarded.

The breakthrough came in the 30th minute when Mata showed a deft touch to release Ashley Cole down the left.

Tony Hibbert was unsighted, Cole delicately chipped the ball across the area and Daniel Sturridge headed home from close range.

Come the stroke of half-time and Everton were breached again when Frank Lampard's free-kick was headed home by John Terry.

Everton started the second in sprightly fashion and the ¬impressive Seamus Coleman grazed the outside the post with shot from 18-yards.

But Chelsea re-asserted their dominance and Everton were soon pressed back.

Mata and Lampard combined brilliantly in midfield but ¬Drogba was just offside as he chased the through ball.

Mata was a constant menace with his ability to not only find space but to make the most
of it. There was more attacking impetus to Everton's play as they looked to find a way back but their finishing was awry as Leon Osman hit with an effort that was well off target.

Then Mata again took a hand in proceedings. Drogba ¬released him down the left and the cross was perfect as Ramires scored from two yards.

Substitute Vellios then slid in with his first touch for the ¬visitors, but it was no more than a consolation.

The only concern on an otherwise excellent day for Andre Villas-Boas was the loss of the in-form Ramires after 65 minutes through injury.

The Mail on Sunday

 

 

On a balmy autumnal night in west London, Roman Abramovich stood to applaud warmly the men who had put a smile back on to his face at the end of an uncomfortable week spent in the heart of the British Establishment.

For an intensely private man, Abramovich was in the need for some escapism after his financial affairs had been subjected to forensic examination during an ongoing highstakes High Court battle with fellow Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. His football team did not disappoint.

In eight years at Stamford Bridge, Abramovich has devoured a multitude of managers, some dealt with more unjustly than others.

Yet there seems to be genuine affection in his eyes, perhaps even his heart, for the football being produced by a team that he has now In their three most recent Premier League games.

Chelsea have scored 12 goals; enough to improve the disposition of a man currently living through the discomfort of having chapters from his past being replayed in a London courtroom.

While Manchester City may have taken over leadership of the Premier League, and Manchester United may have journeyed back from Merseyside with an important, hard-won point at Liverpool, Chelsea were swift to remind them that the title will not be reduced to a squabble between noisy neighbours.

Tomorrow, Villas-Boas will celebrate his 34th birthday comforted by the realisation that his early progress in London is bringing with it a promise of good times ahead for Chelsea.

Everton's recent history at Stamford Bridge would not have been lost on Villas-Boas.

The team he was brought from Portugal to reshape and rebuild had been held to a draw on the five previous occasions Everton had travelled to London to play Chelsea in the Premier League; and, furthermore, Everton knocked Chelsea out of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge last season in a penalty shoot-out after Leighton Baines equalised in the last minute of extra-time.

Mata brilliantly picked out Ashley Cole's surge into the box and the left-back stood up a first-time cross which Sturridge simply could not fail to nod into the net.

Everton continued to look more than capable of scoring themselves, but were undone again in first-half stoppage-time when Seamus Coleman fouled Cole and Terry beat Tim Howard to nod home Frank Lampard's free-kick.

Leon Osman almost pulled a goal back straight after the restart with a shot that shaved the outside of the post, but with the comfort of a two-goal lead, Chelsea soon began putting together some lovely passages of play.

Drogba inexplicably stopped running when Jose Bosingwa looked set to put the ball on a plate for the striker and although Osman drilled over, Everton boss David Moyes decided to act, withdrawing Coleman for Royston Drenthe just past the hour mark.

No sooner had he done so and it was game over, a sweeping Chelsea move seeing Mata exchange passes with Drogba before sending in a low cross which was inch-perfect for Ramires to slide home. Ramires appeared to hurt himself beating two defenders to the ball and had to be helped from the field after the restart, with Florent Malouda coming on.

History proved to be a worthless ally to Everton manager David Moyes. At the centre of what Villas- Boas is trying to establish is 23-yearold Spaniard Juan Mata. His introduction to English football from Valencia, for £23.5million - or less than half the fee of his currently suspended compatriot Fernando Torres - has been a seamless transition.

His positional play is the instinctive art of a man blessed with an innate gift for finding space in the most crowded of places. His tireless contribution to the team is one of a man who is without any obvious ego and he was a contributory factor to the first and last Chelsea goals.

Yet Villas-Boas, who remarkably completed just his second year in management last week, is already adroit at ensuring no player is to be praised above the collective spirit of the team.

'The talent in this squad is so immense, and our job is to free the players of that talent,' said Villas- Boas. 'Our one hundred per cent home record is nothing more than completing our responsibilities.

'We have not done anything special yet; and we will not have done until we find ourselves in a position of comfort at the top of the Premier League. It was important for us to get three points after the international break, especially on a day when two of the title contenders played one another at Anfield.

'We may have cut the gap to Manchester United, but that was an important point for them today.'

Chelsea's supporters began to breathe more easily from the 31st minute, when Mata's deft chip to Ashley Cole on the left flank enabled him to supply Daniel Sturridge with an invitation to head Chelsea into the lead. And there was a sense that the curse of Everton was finally to be exorcised during injury-time at the end of the first half when Seamus Coleman brought down Cole.

Frank Lampard duly delivered a free-kick with the hallmark of a man replicating an act he has perfected in 10 years at Stamford Bridge - and John Terry won the aerial battle to commemorate his 350th Premier League appearance for Chelsea with a typically robust header that caught goalkeeper Tim Howard in no-man's land. 'That second goal was the killer,' said Moyes.

The night just kept getting better for Chelsea. In the 62nd minute, Drogba, released by Mata, broke from the middle of the pitch to find the Spaniard with a superb return pass. Mata's low cross into the area was brushed into the net by Ramires.

Apostolos Vellios claimed a late consolation with his first touch as a replacement for Louis Saha but, by then, Everton were condemned to make an unhappier return to Merseyside than they had become accustomed to in recent times.

And while Abramovich left the ground with a spring in his step, Villas-Boas contemplated a European night against Belgium's Club Genk on Wednesday and a west London derby against QPR next weekend.

Asked how he will spend his birthday tomorrow, he reddened at such a gentle intrusion into his private life.

'I'll be working,' he said. 'But maybe I will have dinner with my wife.'

Sunday Express

 

 

DANIEL STURRIDGE for England? That was the cry at Stamford Bridge.

And in a week when Fabio Capello learned that Wayne Rooney will miss the first three games of Euro 2012, Sturridge staked his claim to fill in.

His opening goal was his fourth in as many games - and as many as Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka combined.

The striker has yet to play for Capello's side but impressed with the Under-21s and deserves a chance. He used his head to set the ball rolling and John Terry did likewise, before Ramires piled on the agony for Everton, who only scored late on through Apostolos Vellios.

So it was a case of many happy returns for Andre Villas-Boas - who turns 34 tomorrow - and the win keeps his side one point behind Manchester United and three behind City.

The Toffees travelled to west London having not lost in their last six league games against them.

But the home side had started the season with a 100 per cent record at home, so something had to give.

Everton made a bright start, with chances for Louis Saha and Marouane Fellaini. But Chelsea went ahead against the run of play in the 31st minute, Sturridge heading Ashley Cole's cross past Tim Howard.

And it was 2-0 before half-time when Terry rose to head Frank Lampard's free-kick home. Terry, on the day he became only the fifth player to make 350 league appearances for Chelsea, slid along the turf on his knees in celebration.

What Everton lack in quality though they more than make up for in spirit, and Leon Osman hit the post seconds after the restart.

But it was all over when Ramires turned in the third from close range after Jack Rodwell went to sleep, allowing man-of-the-match Juan Mata to pick out the Brazilian with a cross from the byline.

That rendered substitute Vellios' late strike - sliding on to a cross from fellow sub Royston Drenthe - little more than a consolation for the visitors.

You had to feel sorry for Everton, who lost their third game in a row against one of the Premier League's big spenders.

It is the first time they have lost three on the spin since November 2009 - and they will hope for better when they meet Chelsea again in the Carling Cup a week on Wednesday.

 

 

 

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