Chelsea show class again
Chelsea moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League with a comfortable victory over new boys Blackpool at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea destroyed Ian Holloway's side with four first-half goals - two from Florent Malouda and others from Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba. Blackpool improved in the second half and Branislav Ivanovic had to clear off the line from DJ Campbell while substitute Gary Taylor-Fletcher brought a fine save from Petr Cech.
It took just two minutes for Chelsea to take the lead when Drogba's corner was flicked on by Branislav Ivanovic and Kalou supplied the finish at the far post. It was the Côte d'Ivoire striker's fourth league goal of the season and Chelsea's 22nd in total so far this season. Michael Essien almost made it two in the seventh minute but the midfielder's 20-yard shot was too high.
But Chelsea doubled their lead in the 12th minute when Kalou put Drogba clear of the Blackpool defence. Instead of having a shot himself, Kalou's international team-mate chose to cross superbly for the unmarked Malouda to fire home his fifth goal of the season.
Branislav Ivanovic almost made it three seconds later but his header from a Malouda corner fell just wide of the upright. Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was forced into his first save of the game in the 16th minute when he tipped a shot from Alex Baptiste around the post.
Chelsea made it 3-0 on the half-hour when Ashley Cole fed Drogba and the Ivory Coast striker's shot on the turn was deflected past Matthew Gilks. It was Drogba's fifth of the season. Chelsea were now in rampant form and only some poor decision-making from Cole prevented Blackpool from falling further behind.
The England left-back should have made it four to the home side seconds after Drogba's goal but his cross-shot went wide of the far post. In the 38th minute another Chelsea attack almost brought yet another goal. Paulo Ferreira headed the ball into space for Kalou to collect but his cross was smashed wide by Malouda.
Another simple Chelsea move sliced Blackpool open in the 41st minute to make it 4-0 to the champions. Drogba's ball over the top to Kalou was inch-perfect and he crossed for Malouda to fire into the bottom corner. Gilks then thwarted Drogba in the 44th minute as the Chelsea forward looked to make it five.
Blackpool almost reduced the arrears in the 49th minute when DJ Campbell rounded Petr Cech but Ivanovic cleared the ball off the goal-line. Moments later Luke Varney squandered a chance for the visitors when he volleyed over from eight yards. Chelsea had lost the initiative and a 20-yard shot from Varney was deflected just over the bar as the visitors, for once, enjoyed the upper hand.
On the hour, substitute Gary Taylor-Fletcher brought a fine save from Cech with a curling shot which was going in until the Czech international tipped it over the bar. Seconds later Holloway removed Elliott Grandin and Varney and replaced them with Brett Ormerod and Marlon Harewood.
But Chelsea squandered a chance to go five in front in the 63rd minute when Drogba put Kalou in the clear but a poor touch allowed Gilks to save his eventual shot. Moments later a cross from Drogba was met by Malouda but the French international's far-post volley was tipped over by Gilks.
In the 66th minute, Malouda spurned another hat-trick chance by firing wide of the left-hand upright. Essien sent a rising shot over the crossbar 10 minutes from time and Drogba did the same four minutes before the end.