BOLTON striker Kevin Davies must be kicking himself tonight. He got kicked by numerous Chelsea defenders in his side’s 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge last night, so perhaps that’s apt.
Tough guy Davies told us yesterday that his old buddy Anelka didn’t get on with fellow Chelsea striker Didier Drogba. So what happens in the 43rd minute? Drogba flights in a cunning cross with his left foot and Anelka nodded home his first goal in three months. The perfect old pal’s act.
That goal in the “psychologically vital” period before half-time did for battling Bolton, whose hoped-for miracle against the leaders never quite materialised.
Victory puts the Blues in pole position for the title with just four Premier League games to play. They’re four points clear of fading Manchester United and six better than Arsenal, who play their game in hand against North London rivals Spurs at White Hart Lane tonight.
As the Wanderers ambled down the M1 to London with around 250 fans on the road with them, Davies was probably showing off about his attempt to unsettled Chelsea. The man who spent 18 months up alongside Anelka in the Frenchman’s 63 games for the Wanderers, assured us: “There doesn’t seem to be a great bond between Nic and Didier. There’s something not quite right – I’m not sure they get on very well together.
“Nicolas lights up when he plays on his own. He’s a great player but at the moment you feel he’s just not that happy.”
And of course, all he did was ensure Drogba and Anelka would bond perfectly. And at just the right time. It’s not as if the leaders were that comfortable. Davies clashed heads with Yuri Zhirkov, who was left bleeding profusely. The Russian bravely played on. Chelsea captain John Terry injured himself blocking a Davies shot 18 minutes in, but he too played on with a dodgy ankle.
But for all the bluster, Bolton couldn’t quite get to the break on even terms.
They nearly got back to a level playing field in the 62nd minute, when a struggling Terry appeared to use an arm in the penalty area. The linesman laughed it off, indicating a slightly hairy chest had been involved. On the bench, Bolton boss Owen Coyle was tearing what’s left of his Scottish hair out.
While Anelka scored the vital goal before he was replaced in the second half, another former Arsenal man, Jack Wilshere, caught the eye too. Coyle has been demanding a World Cup call-up for the teenager on loan from the Emirates Stadium.
Certainly the 18-year-old midfielder showed talent – and attitude – before his substitution in the 82nd minute. But Frank Lampard, the current immovable object in the England midfield, so nearly produced the vital second goal, crashing a 25-yard effort against the post after73 minutes.
There was time for Terry, looking comfortable after his ankle problem, to crash a well-struck shot just wide. But then, with five to play, Bolton sub Johan Elmander, the £9m Swede, flicked his header inches wide of Petr Cech’s goal. And that was it, the moment the title began its inexorable move back to Stamford Bridge after an absence of three painful years.
By then, Davies had been booked for a challenge on John Obi Mikel and a day that had started with such defiance gradually declined into submission.