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Chelsea confirmed their return to form with a ruthless 4-0 win over Bolton Wanderers on Monday to keep a foothold in the Premier League title race.
If ever there was a fixture for the champions to guarantee a win it is away to Bolton and they clinched their eighth victory in a row at the Reebok Stadium with a stunning strike by Didier Drogba and goals by Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka and Ramires.
Those eight games have produced 18 goals for the Londoners while Bolton have failed to find the net in any of them.
Having taken 10 points from 11 games in a dire run, back-to-back victories have stopped the rot and Chelsea moved clear in fourth spot on 41 points.
Manchester City are third on 45, Arsenal second on 46 and Manchester United, who play their game in hand at Blackpool on Tuesday, top on 48.
Bolton, who have taken one point from their last five matches and slipped to 10th, were chasing shadows in the end but, having lost only once at home previously this season, they had started confidently and took the game to the visitors.
They were stunned after 11 minutes, though, when Drogba let rip from 30 metres out and the dipping, swerving ball left Jussi Jaaskelainen clutching fresh air.
Petr Cech dived full length to touch a Matt Taylor header round the post in a rare sight of goal for the hosts and just before halftime Florent Malouda, who scored the winner in Chelsea’s 1-0 home win over Bolton last month, threaded a shot inside the near post from a tight angle.
As Bolton pressed forward looking to find a way back into the game they were repeatedly caught on the break with Chelsea showing the sort of zip that has been sorely missing recently.
Anelka seized on a loose ball to lash in the third after 56 minutes and Brazil midfielder Ramires sidefooted in his first goal for the club to complete a repeat last year’s 4-0 win on the same ground.
Drogba, named man of the match after his most impressive performance for months, was delighted.
“I took my chance, I had the confidence to try and the manager said to me to shoot when I had the chance,” he told Sky Sports.
“Maybe before I was thinking too much, this one I just wanted to shoot.”
Manager Carlo Ancelotti, not for the first time in recent weeks, said he felt his team had turned the corner.
“We played pretty good football, with a good attitude and this was an important step,” he said.
“We are coming back to fight for everything. It’s not easy to close the gap but we have to try.”
Ancelotti said Chelsea were still trying to sign Brazil defender David Luiz from Benfica, adding that the clubs had yet to reach an agreement.