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Can Chelsea Handle the Pressure?
By MICHAEL PETERS, MOP Squad Sports Staff Writer.
Nov 21, 2004 - 2:48:00 PM

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With Arsenal seemingly not being able to put the loss to Manchester United behind them, the door has been wide open for Chelsea to go some points clear at the top of the Premiership. With Arsenal drawing against West Bromwich Albion earlier in the day, a win against Bolton Wanderers would have put Chelsea four points clear at the top of the table.

While many consider Chelsea to be going through a "striker crisis" with Didier Drogba on the injured list and Kezman having a goal drought, they have still managed to score twenty-two goals in all competitions since Drogba got injured, and only lost one game to Manchester City.

They welcomed Bolton Wanderers to Stamford Bridge, in a match which many expected them to win pretty comfortably. Just thirty-five seconds into the game, Damien Duff put Chelsea, breaking past the defenders to get on the end of a superb pass over the top of the defense from Frank Lampard, to take it past Jaaskelainen and into the back of the net. Chelsea were cruising.

The in-form Irish winger, Damien Duff.

Two minutes into the second half, Frank Lampard earned Chelsea a corner. Robben played the ball short to Damien Duff, who passed it straight back. Robben swung the ball low into the box, to have Tiago strike it sweetly into the back of the net, making it two goals in two games for the Portuguese International.

It looked as if Chelsea had put the game to bed, but Bolton managed to get a foot back in the game after an in-swinging free kick from Gary Speed made under pressure Cech stretching for the ball, but the ball sailed over him and onto the head of Kevin Davis, rebounding off Jaidi and sailing into the back of the net. It was the first time Cech had been beaten at Stamford Bridge since his big money move.

Chelsea attempted to put one more into the net and put Chelsea fans hearts to rest with a Frank Lampard free kick, which left Jaaskelainen no choice but to punch into the direction of Makelele, who struck it straight for the net. Luckily enough for Bolton, a player managed to get in the way and clear it from the danger area.

With four minutes to go, Bolton were awarded a free kick. N'Gotty sailed the ball straight into the middle for Davis to head towards Jaidi, who caught the ball on the half volley and beat Cech, levelling the score.

Chelsea wasn't able to come back with a reply and the match ended in a draw, meaning Bolton had not lost to any of the three main clubs (Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea) in the Premiership so far this season.

With Arsenal only managing a draw against West Brom, Chelsea stayed two points clear at the top of the table. They have the most consistent goalkeeper in the Premiership at the moment, and the team seem to be gelling together brilliantly.

With an excellent manager like Jose Mourinho at the helm, Chelsea look set to battle Arsenal right until the end of the season, but will they be able to handle the pressure and stay at the top until the end of the season?

While Arsenal are having a confidence drought at the current time, everybody knows that the Gunners are still capable of pulling themselves out of it any day now. With a trip to Highbury coming up on December 12th, will Chelsea be able to put another dint in Arsenals hopes of retaining the Premiership for the first time, or will Arsenal get themselves right back into the race?

December 12th could be a main turning point in the Premiership. Either Chelsea will get a bigger point lead for themselves or Arsenal will regain their confidence and tie things up in the Barclays Premiership. Of course, this all depends on if they -- as expected -- don't pick up any losses on the way.

With Arjen Robben proving that he was well worth the money, Didier Drogba returning to training this week, and Damien Duff and Tiago playing brilliant football, Chelsea are looking superior to their London rivals.

But anything can happen in football.

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