Tag Archives: Golden Boot

Premier League Files: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

Premier League Career: Wolverhampton Wanderers (2009-2012)

Now 32, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake still plays football in the lower reaches of the English pyramid. He is currently in the Midland League Premier Division, which sits at level 10 of the system, playing for Walsall Wood. They are actually his eighth club since his most productive spell came to an end in 2013 at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Ebanks-Blake’s youth days saw him have spells with Cambridge United and Manchester United. He actually turned down a scholarship with Cambridge to join the Manchester United Academy in 2002. Two years later, he played his first senior match which was a League Cup tie away at Crewe Alexandra but towards the end of the season, he fractured his leg and fell down the pecking order in their reserves setup. He never made a league appearance for Manchester United although he was an unused substitute in several UEFA Champions League games.

After a brief nine-game loan spell at Royal Antwerp in Belgium in 2006, he moved to Plymouth Argyle that summer on a three-year deal. The Pilgrims were in the Championship and managed by the charismatic Ian Holloway. He was Holloway’s first signing and scored 10 times in his first season at Argyle. He struck another 11 goals in the first half of the 2007-2008 campaign and that form attracted the attention of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves activated a buyout clause in his contract and signed him in January 2008 for £1.5 million. He would go on to play 177 times in league football for the Midlands club, scoring 61 times. Ebanks-Blake made a brilliant start to life at Molineux. He scored seven goals in his first eight matches for the club and actually ended up winning the Championship Golden Boot for 2007-2008, finishing with figures of 23 goals for the season between the two clubs he represented.

He retained the Golden Boot in 2008-2009 with another 25 goals, helping Wolves reach the Premier League as champions of the second-tier. This was the season where he scored the first hat-trick of his professional career, achieved in February 2009 against Norwich City. Wolves rewarded this form by offering him a new four-year contract.

Having excelled in the Championship, there was excitement that he could reproduce the form in the top-flight but it didn’t quite materialise. He scored just twice in 2009-2010 against Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers in a pair of 1-1 draws. With Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher now amongst the competition, Ebanks-Blake was no longer a guaranteed starter but in 2010-2011, he did chip in with seven goals in 28 matches including a goal at Old Trafford against his former club, although that came in a 2-1 defeat.

Knee ligament damage early on in 2011-2012 restricted him to 23 appearances and just one goal against Norwich City. Wolves were relegated at the end of the season. He regained some goalscoring form in 2012-2013 but despite his 14 league goals, Wolves struggled back in the Championship and suffered a second consecutive relegation. He was released at the end of the season.

A broken fibula and sprained ankle meant Ebanks-Blake remained a free agent until his full recovery from injury and in December 2013, he signed for Ipswich Town, linking up again with Mick McCarthy. He made only nine appearances in the Championship, failing to score and was released at the season’s end.

Since then, Ebanks-Blake has operated at a level no higher than League One. He has played for Preston North End, Chesterfield, Shrewsbury Town, AFC Telford United, Halesowen Town and Barwell.

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Seasonal Stories: Sunderland (1999-2000)

Storming to seventh

Sunderland returned to the elite of English football in 1999 after two seasons in Division One. The Black Cats had coasted to the title in the previous campaign and had learned their lessons from their painful relegation on the final day in 1997.

Peter Reid’s side played some thrilling football all campaign and finished in a fine seventh position, just outside of the European qualifying positions. They also had the top scorer of the Premier League season in their ranks with Kevin Phillips scoring 30 goals in his debut top-flight campaign.

Adding experience

Manager Peter Reid largely kept trust with the squad that had brought Premier League football back to Sunderland for the 1999-2000 season. Just £5.5 million was spent in the summer transfer window but some useful experience was added, especially to the defence.

The main arrival was that of Steve Bould. The central defender, a serial winner of FA Cups and league championships during his time at Arsenal, was signed in early July for £500,000 and was appointed as the new captain of the side upon his arrival. He was joined by 1996 European Championship winner Thomas Helmer from Bayern Munich on a free transfer. However, he made just two appearances all season for Reid.

The most expensive arrival was midfielder Stefan Schwarz. The Swede was a £4 million capture from Valencia and had Premier League experience on his CV too from a one-season spell with Arsenal in 1994-1995.

Rude awakening

Sunderland made a disastrous start on the opening day at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. It wasn’t going to be an easy beginning but they lost 4-0 with future Sunderland manager Gus Poyet scoring an early contender for Goal of the Season.

Their first victory came three days later in their first-ever Premier League match at The Stadium of Light. Kevin Phillips scored twice to beat his former club and fellow Premier League promoted side Watford 2-0.

Sunderland’s season received proper lift-on towards the end of August when they travelled to St James’ Park for a local derby with Newcastle United. It was a filthy evening weather-wise but a joyous one for the visiting fans. Niall Quinn and Phillips scored second half goals as the Black Cats recovered from a goal down at the interval to win 2-1. The result sealed Ruud Gullit’s fate and ended his reign as Newcastle manager.

The win on Tyneside began an 11-match unbeaten run in the top-flight with one of the highlights coming at Pride Park where they ran riot at Derby County. Phillips scored his first Premier League treble in a 5-0 victory which still remains Sunderland’s biggest-ever Premier League victory. When his two goals downed Aston Villa 2-1 a month later, the Black Cats were sitting in impressive company in the table.

18th OCTOBER 1999 TABLE

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Leeds United 11 8 1 2 21 12 +9 25
2 Manchester United 11 7 3 1 27 16 +11 24
3 SUNDERLAND 11 7 2 2 20 9 +11 23
4 Arsenal 11 7 1 3 17 10 +7 22
5 Leicester City 11 6 2 3 19 14 +5 20
6 Chelsea 9 6 1 2 15 4 +11 19

Dishing out revenge on Chelsea

Sunderland’s unbeaten run came to an end on 20th November when they were beaten 2-0 at home by Liverpool FC. It was their first home defeat of the campaign. However, they bounced back again with another run of three successive victories. The second of those wins was probably the sweetest of the season on home soil.

Chelsea turned up at The Stadium of Light on a difficult run of form domestically that saw them down in the upper reaches of mid-table. Nevertheless, no-one could have forecasted the amazing first half performance Sunderland put in. The Phillips/Quinn axis was working a treat and both scored a brace. Sunderland supporters were dreaming at half-time and they richly deserved their 4-0 lead. They eventually won 4-1 and dished out the perfect revenge on the Blues for their opening day drubbing.

Before Christmas, Phillips had already scored 19 Premier League goals and he was leading the race for the Golden Boot. Sunderland went into Christmas still in third spot in the table and only below Leeds United and Manchester United.

Boxing Day was a horror story at Everton, folding to a 5-0 defeat in what was the club’s worst defeat of the season. This result started an 11-game sequence that ultimately saw any European hopes dashed.

Only five points were collected in this period but there were spirted draws at home to both Manchester United and Newcastle United. A 5-2 loss to Leicester City in early March forced Reid into some tactical adjustment for the run-in with the club having dropped into ninth position in the table.

Kev reaches the 30-goal mark

Despite the winless run, Phillips had still scored another six goals and it became clear that he wasn’t going to be caught by anyone in the Golden Boot battle. Only England captain Alan Shearer from Newcastle United was putting up any sort of challenge but Phillips finished well-clear.

In Sunderland’s final home game of the season, he scored the only goal of the game against West Ham United and it saw him reach a personal milestone. He became a member of the 30-goal club in a Premier League season, only becoming the third player to achieve this mark after Shearer and Andy Cole. Since then, only Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie have achieved a similar total in any Premier League season meaning Phillips is in very elite company.

A final day 3-1 loss at White Hart Lane to Tottenham Hotspur meant Sunderland missed out on overhauling Aston Villa in the league table in the final reckoning. Nevertheless, a seventh place final position had most definitely exceeded expectations from the start of the season.

Going down in 1997 had hurt everyone connected with Sunderland Football Club but they had learned lessons from that experience which made them better and more knowledgeable for the experience. The 1999-2000 season had been an enjoyable campaign for the club and most especially, for Kevin Phillips who won England international recognition for his goalscoring heroics in this campaign.

FINAL 1999-2000 TABLE – 6th to 11th

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
6 Aston Villa 38 15 13 10 46 35 +11 58
7 SUNDERLAND 38 16 10 12 57 56 +1 58
8 Leicester City 38 16 7 15 55 55 0 55
9 West Ham United 38 15 10 13 52 53 -1 55
10 Tottenham Hotspur 38 15 8 15 57 48 +8 53
11 Newcastle United 38 14 10 14 63 54 +9 52

Great Goals: Didier Drogba – CHELSEA vs. Liverpool FC (September 2006)

Didier Drogba won two Premier League Golden Boot prizes during his exceptional time at Chelsea which saw him win all of the major trophies, including four league titles and the UEFA Champions League in 2012.

Six years earlier, he scored one of his finest goals in a Chelsea shirt and it was the winner in a tight early season contest between the Blues and Liverpool FC. The game was goalless approaching half-time. With his back to goal, Drogba turned instantly, escaping the tightly marked attentions of Jamie Carragher. Swivelling away from the Liverpool defender, he produced a first-time shot on the turn that left Pepe Reina completely rooted to the spot. It was a sensational piece of individual brilliance from the Ivorian.

Although Chelsea missed out on retaining their Premier League title, Drogba scored winning goals in two cup finals and claimed his first Golden Boot in 2006-2007 off the back of amazing moments of skill like this winning goal against the Merseysiders.

Seasonal Stories: Tottenham Hotspur (2016-2017)

Farewell to the Lane

Tottenham Hotspur might have ended the 2016-2017 season without any silverware but it was a memorable campaign for Mauricio Pochettino and his young, exciting side. For the second successive season, they made a challenge for the title, eventually falling seven points short of London rivals Chelsea but they finished gallant runners-up.

They finished above north London rivals Arsenal for the first time in 22 years, Harry Kane won the Golden Boot for the second successive season and they dropped just four points all campaign on home soil as White Hart Lane received a fond farewell.

Splashing the cash

After coming close to winning the Premier League title in 2015-2016, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and his young squad were hungry to take two further steps following their third-place finish the previous season.

After impressing for France during EURO 2016, Moussa Sissoko was acquired from relegated Newcastle United for £30 million on transfer deadline day. He joined Victor Wanyama, who linked up with Pochettino again having played underneath the Argentine at Southampton and Vincent Janssen, who came in from Ajax as back-up for Harry Kane.

Tottenham made a brilliant start to the season and finished September in second place, with four wins from their opening six matches. Heung-Min Son started the season in peak form. The South Korean scored braces in away victories over Stoke City and Middlesbrough. The only blow was the loss of Kane for seven weeks after he sustained an ankle injury in the closing stages of a narrow home win against rock-bottom Sunderland.

Poch triumphing over Pep

October began with a visit to White Hart Lane from league leaders Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side had made an impeccable start, winning their first six league matches of the season but on the day, it was Pochettino who would triumph over Pep. Tottenham got at the Citizens early on and the visitors couldn’t handle their pressing tactics. An Aleksandar Kolarov own goal and strike from Dele Alli helped Spurs to record an impressive 2-0 victory and meant, they were now the only club yet to taste defeat in the Premier League in 2016-2017.

The next period of league matches was frustrating and ultimately, a run of just two wins in eight matches proved to be costly come the final outcome in regards to a title challenge. Tottenham’s unbeaten record remained until the end of November when in their 13th match, they lost 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to league leaders Chelsea. By now, Kane was back from injury and rescued a point from the penalty spot in the first North London Derby of the season at The Emirates Stadium.

Defeat no.2 of the season came at Old Trafford in mid-December. Kane was robbed of possession in the centre circle and Manchester United broke forward, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring the only goal of the game. Tottenham’s response to this setback was a run of six successive victories which meant by mid-January, they were firmly in the shake-up for a top four finish.

15th JANUARY 2017 TABLE

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Chelsea 21 17 1 3 45 15 +30 52
2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 21 13 6 2 43 14 +29 45
3 Liverpool FC 21 13 6 2 49 24 +25 45
4 Arsenal 21 13 5 3 48 22 +26 44
5 Manchester City 21 13 3 5 41 26 +15 42
6 Manchester United 21 11 7 3 32 20 +12 40

King Kane loves a treble

At the turn of the year, it was Dele Alli who was firmly in the goals. Alli managed to score three successive braces of goals during the festive period, including two headers at White Hart Lane in early January which saw Chelsea’s 13-match winning sequence end in a 2-0 defeat.

Kane was about to enjoy a stunning 2017 which ultimately saw him break the record for Premier League goals in a calendar year. His first hat-trick of the season came in mid-January in a fairly routine 4-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.

Kane followed this hat-trick up with back-to-back trebles in successive Sundays in February. First, his hat-trick took Spurs past Championship side Fulham in the FA Cup fifth round before a first half hat-trick saw Stoke City condemned to a third successive 4-0 loss against the Lilywhites in the Premier League.

Kane was locked in a tight battle for the Golden Boot with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku but it looked like the Belgian might have the edge, especially when Kane injured his ankle again in the FA Cup quarter-finals against Millwall, putting him on the treatment table again for another month.

With uncertainty around Arsene Wenger’s future at Arsenal and the inconsistency from Liverpool FC and both Manchester clubs, it was Tottenham who were the only team who looked capable of giving Chelsea some nervy moments in the run-in. 10 points behind with 10 games left to play, Tottenham quickly cut that gap to four points, enjoying a fruitful run of nine successive victories – their best-ever sequence in their Premier League history.

The end at White Hart Lane

At the end of April, Tottenham beat Arsenal 2-0 in the last North London Derby at White Hart Lane with goals from Alli and the returning Kane. This meant that Tottenham would finish above Arsenal in a top-flight table for the first time since 1995 and guaranteed a finish in the top four.

There was a sense within the supporters that a genuine bid for the title was on but a week later, that hope expired on Tottenham’s first visit to The London Stadium. Manuel Lanzini’s second half strike guided West Ham to a 1-0 victory, sending their supporters into ecstasy at crushing Spurs’ dreams. By the time Tottenham played their next match, Chelsea had recorded the two wins they had required to regain the Premier League title.

All that was left was for the final-ever match to be played at White Hart Lane. Tottenham were moving temporarily into Wembley Stadium whilst a new stadium was built on the site of the historic ground. Manchester United were the visitors but they couldn’t be the party poopers. Wanyama opened the scoring with an early header and fittingly, Kane would be the final Tottenham scorer at the ground, scoring his first-ever goal against Manchester United in the process.

A 2-1 victory over the Red Devils guaranteed second place in the table, their best-ever Premier League finish and an unbeaten home record in the last White Hart Lane season, recording 15 successive home victories. Only Liverpool FC and Leicester City avoided defeat. There was plenty of emotion as a final celebration was held with Tottenham legends past and present braving the rain to join in the celebrations. Kane wasn’t done though. Seven goals in the last week of the season, including another two hat-tricks as Spurs brushed aside Leicester and Hull City 6-1 and 7-1 respectively. That meant a second successive Golden Boot for the striker.

Alas, there was no silverware for the team but Tottenham Hotspur had produced plenty of excitement and entertainment for their supporters and the neutrals in season 2016-2017.

FINAL 2016-2017 TABLE – THE TOP SIX

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Chelsea 38 30 3 5 85 33 +52 93
2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 38 26 8 4 86 26 +60 86
3 Manchester City 38 23 9 6 80 39 +41 78
4 Liverpool FC 38 22 10 6 78 42 +36 76
5 Arsenal 38 23 6 9 77 44 +33 75
6 Manchester United 38 18 15 5 54 29 +25 69

Iconic Moments: Salah’s super scoring landmark (May 2018)

Manchester City might have claimed many team records but their galaxy of stars were pipped to all the major individual prizes by the extraordinary Mohamed Salah. Returning to the Premier League after a successful stint in Italy, the Egyptian won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the Football Writers’ Award and claimed the Golden Boot.

He was given the prize after Liverpool FC’s final day 4-0 win against Brighton & Hove Albion which secured Champions League football for the Merseysiders for the 2018-2019 campaign. Salah scored his 32nd goal of the Premier League season in the 26th minute and that meant he held off the stiff challenge of Tottenham’s Harry Kane, pipping the double Golden Boot winner to top spot by two strikes.

That meant Salah broke a Premier League record of most goals scored in a 38-game season, beating a record that had been jointly-held by Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez. He scored against 17 different opponents too which was another Premier League record. Only Manchester United and Swansea City kept Salah off the scoresheet in 2017-2018. To finish his scoring landmarks, he scored more goals on his own than the entire team efforts of Swansea, Huddersfield Town and West Bromwich Albion. It was a world-class debut campaign at Anfield for ‘Majestic Mo.’

Premier League Files: Chris Sutton

Premier League Career: Norwich City (1992-1994), Blackburn Rovers (1994-1999), Chelsea (1999-2000), Birmingham City (2006), Aston Villa (2006-2007)

Chris Sutton was once the most expensive player in British football when Blackburn Rovers paid Norwich City £5 million in the summer of 1994. It was money well spent by Kenny Dalglish. Sutton paired up with Alan Shearer and they formed one of the deadliest strike partnerships the Premier League has ever seen. The original ‘SAS’ combination scored 49 league goals as Blackburn ended their 81-year drought and became champions of England.

Sutton’s playing career lasted 16 years. A title winner at Blackburn, he also enjoyed immense success in Scottish football with Celtic but also had a difficult season in London with Chelsea and his international career was unnecessarily short due to his differences with Glenn Hoddle.

Chris began his career in Norfolk with Norwich City. He was initially a centre-back and would often play there when emergency measures were called for by any of the managers he worked under. It was Dave Stringer who would convert him into the deadly forward that he would become. He made his professional debut in 1991 against Queens Park Rangers and started to make a regular contribution to the first-team setup a year later.

In the first Premier League season, Sutton was still at Norwich and played in both defensive and attacking roles for Mike Walker. He scored eight times as the Canaries finished a fabulous and unexpected third in the final table, despite ending with a negative goal difference tally. He also bagged his first career hat-trick with a treble in a 4-2 victory over outgoing champions Leeds United in April 1993.

It was the 1993-1994 season that really saw Sutton’s star begin to rise and therefore, his valuation in the transfer market too. He scored 25 Premier League goals – only outscored by Andy Cole of Newcastle United and Blackburn’s main marksman, Shearer. He was part of the Norwich side that dumped Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich out of the UEFA Cup but league form regressed when Walker left his role as team manager to take the job at Everton. With a willing owner in Robert Chase who was keen to cash in, Sutton was set to leave for pastures new in the summer of 1994.

Norwich valued Sutton at £5 million and two clubs, Blackburn and Arsenal agreed to meet the valuation put on him. In July 1994, he met both teams for talks and elected to choose Blackburn as his next destination, despite a transgression in Norwich’s nightclub district which saw him arrested.

He settled quickly, forming a great partnership with Shearer and the pair even shared the Carling Player of the Month award for November 1994. He scored a hat-trick at home to Coventry City, twice in a narrow triumph over Liverpool FC and the winning goal at Chelsea as Rovers went up another level in their quest to win their first league championship since 1914. Sutton scored 15 league goals and was the perfect foil for Shearer, who would win the Golden Boot for the first time in his career. On the final day, Blackburn went to Anfield needing to beat Liverpool FC to be certain of the title. They lost 2-1 but Manchester United failed to beat West Ham at Upton Park, so the championship was Blackburn’s.

The 1995-1996 campaign was not so positive for both parties. Injuries restricted Sutton to just 13 appearances and even in these games; he failed to score a single league goal. This gave Mike Newell the chance to establish a partnership with Shearer but both left in the summer of 1996, leaving Sutton to become Blackburn’s main man.

The heady days of title wins in 1995 were now a distant memory for the Lancastrians. He was Blackburn’s top scorer in 1996-1997 but he sparked controversy in April 1997 at Highbury against Arsenal. In the dying stages of the match, Arsenal were 1-0 ahead and the ball was kicked out of play by them to allow treatment to an injured Stephen Hughes. The sporting rule is for the ball to be returned to the team that had possession unchallenged but Sutton elected to chase the ball immediately when play restarted and won his team a corner. Blackburn scored from the resulting set-piece to earn a 1-1 draw and the home faithful and Arsenal team were livid. Sutton refused to apologise for his actions.

In 1997-1998, he scored 18 times and finished joint-winner of the Golden Boot, along with Coventry City’s Dion Dublin and Michael Owen of Liverpool FC. This is something he has cheekily reminded people in an advert for BT Sport’s Score service in recent months.

His form for Blackburn that season earned him his one and only international cap from England, coming off the bench in an international friendly against Cameroon in November 1997. Three months later, he was asked to play for an England B team which he plainly refused. He fell out over this issue with Hoddle and his Three Lions career was over before it hardly begun.

In 1999, Blackburn were relegated to Division One, just four short seasons after becoming champions of England. Sutton was sold to Chelsea that summer for £10 million but endured a horrid campaign with the west Londoners. He scored just once in the Premier League – a header in the 5-0 rout of Manchester United in October as he struggled to fit into their style of play. He didn’t even make the squad for their FA Cup final win over Aston Villa and was sold that summer to Celtic. Chelsea had to accept a £4 million loss just to get rid of Sutton from their wage bill.

Chris enjoyed a wonderful six seasons at Parkhead, forming another prolific partnership, this time with the Super Swede, Henrik Larsson. He was voted SPFA Player of the Year in 2004, scored 63 times in 130 appearances for Celtic and won eight major honours, including four league championships. He was also part of the Bhoys team that reached the 2003 UEFA Cup final before losing in extra-time to Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto in Seville.

In January 2006, he returned to English football with Birmingham City on a short-term contract. Injuries restricted him to just 11 appearances and one goal which came in defeat to bitter rivals Aston Villa in the Second City Derby. He would join Villa in October 2006 following Birmingham’s relegation, linking up briefly with Martin O’Neill, who had inspired some great performances from him at Celtic. He scored a winning goal at Goodison Park against Everton but suffered blurred vision in a match against Manchester United on 23rd December. He missed the entire second half of the campaign and after seeing consultants about the issue, he retired in July 2007. He had one season in management with Lincoln City but left in 2010 for personal reasons. He now works as a television pundit for BT Sport and also is often part of the commentary team on BBC Radio Five Live.

Often outspoken as a pundit, Chris Sutton certainly draws interest with his opinions and he certainly had defences concerned throughout a successful playing career which saw him become a league champion in both England and Scotland.

Memorable Matches: Chelsea 8-0 Wigan Athletic (May 2010)

Goalscorers: Nicolas Anelka 6, 56, Frank Lampard 32 PEN, Salomon Kalou 54, Didier Drogba 63, 68 PEN, 80, Ashley Cole 90

Teams:

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Alex, Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic (Juliano Belletti 58), John Terry, Michael Ballack (Nemanja Matic 70), Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou (Joe Cole 58)

Wigan Athletic: Mike Pollitt, Emmerson Boyce, Gary Caldwell (SENT OFF), Maynor Figueroa, Steve Gohouri, Mario Melchiot, James McCarthy, Ben Watson (Hendry Thomas 61), Mohamed Diame (Paul Scharner 72), Charles N’Zogbia, Hugo Rodallega (Victor Moses 82)

Referee: Martin Atkinson, Attendance: 41,383

The 2009-2010 title battle had gone down to the final day of the season. It was a straight shootout between Chelsea and Manchester United. Chelsea had the advantage with a one-point lead over Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. If they beat Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge, they would become Premier League champions for the third time and end United’s three-year stranglehold on the crown.

Wigan had nothing to play for with safety secured a fortnight earlier and many believed it should be a routine afternoon for Carlo Ancelotti’s champions-elect. They were to be proven right as Chelsea put in a dominant and emphatic display on an afternoon of goals, rather than tense nerves in west London.

Any doubts the home supporters might have had before kick-off were silenced inside six minutes. Wigan failed to clear Didier Drogba’s free-kick and from a flick-on by Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka drilled a shot inside Mike Pollitt’s near post. It was a perfect start for the Blues. The visitors did enjoy plenty of possession but rarely threatened Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal and their task got even harder 13 minutes before half-time.

Frank Lampard was played through by Drogba and was hauled to the ground by defender Gary Caldwell. Referee Martin Atkinson gave a penalty and with Caldwell being the last man, had little option but to send him off. Drogba wanted to take the penalty but was stopped from doing so by Lampard. The midfielder dispatched the spot-kick with ease to virtually end any lingering hopes of a slip-up. Drogba had wanted the penalty so he could topple Wayne Rooney in the race for the Golden Boot. He showed clear petulance at not being allowed his personal glory but that would come later.

There was now a party atmosphere around the ground and Chelsea really turned on the style in the second half. Salomon Kalou made it 3-0 nine minutes into the second half, exchanging passes with Lampard before slotting the ball beyond Pollitt’s grasp. Two minutes later, Branislav Ivanovic, with virtually his last contribution of the afternoon, picked out Anelka who produced a brilliant right-foot strike that left the goalkeeper without any hope of saving.

This allowed Ancelotti the chance to bring on Juliano Belletti and Joe Cole for their farewell appearances before the pair were to be released in the summer. Drogba had been sulking after not getting his earlier chance to score but his mood lifted when he headed home goal number five of the afternoon. This prompted the Ivorian to score a 17-minute hat-trick which ensured he would pip Rooney to the Golden Boot. There was still time for Ashley Cole to put the seal on a magnificent display of shooting excellence.

Manchester United might have beaten Stoke City 4-0 but it counted for nothing. With more wins than any other side and over 100 Premier League goals, Chelsea had sealed the 2009-2010 title in style. It was also their biggest victory in their 105-year history. The celebrations could well and truly begin.