It was a happy return to Bolton Wanderers for Daniel Sturridge, while Frank Lampard gave his Chelsea manager a timely reminder of his qualities by scoring a hat-trick at the Reebok Stadium.
Bolton a happy hunting ground for Chelsea's Lampard and Sturridge
BOLTON // Young and old, rising star and supposedly fading force, Daniel Sturridge and Frank Lampard can appear more like opposites than teammates.
But there is a common denominator: the Reebok Stadium has been the happiest of hunting grounds for both, and they replenished their stock of happy memories as Chelsea gorged themselves on goals yesterday.
In the process, teammates who seemed headed for divergent paths made eloquent cases for their continued selection.
One is fighting to cement a spot in the side, the other to keep hold of the berth that has been unquestioned for a decade, but their arguments are the same.
The 22 year old scored twice, the 33 year old three times. As competition for places heats up, so does Chelsea's title challenge.
Sturridge was reluctant to celebrate against the club for whom he excelled on loan last season. If it was bittersweet for him, Lampard's emotions were rather more uncomplicated.
A player who seemed in danger of being phased out now has four goals in two games. The focus on what he cannot offer Chelsea - the quick, slick passing game epitomised by Juan Mata - ignores the consistency of his contributions in the opposing penalty area.
"He arrived in the box with perfect timing," Andre Villas-Boas, his manager, said. "I am happy for him. His talent was never in question." Bolton Wanderers have plenty of evidence of it.
Lampard took his tally to 11 league goals against them, a 2005 brace clinching the Londoners' first title for half a century. This is his home from home and a place of torment for Bolton.
Deputising for the injured Jussi Jaaskelainen, Adam Bogdan's fourth league start for Bolton is one he will struggle to forget. Not that he was afforded much protection. Unlocking their defence is all too simple, as Chelsea illustrated after 92 seconds.
A corner won by the overlapping Jose Bosingwa, exploiting the space behind the one-paced Paul Robinson, was taken by Mata and headed in by Sturridge.
A graduate from the Reebok finishing school is more than simply a scorer, as he showed when Lampard side-footed the second in from the younger man's low pass.
An awkward start became awful for Bolton, condemned to an 11th league defeat in 12 games. Two minutes to forget for their rookie goalkeeper that resulted in two goals, both his fault. First he contrived to push Sturridge's bobbling shot into the back of his net.
Then David Luiz was allowed to run 40 yards before letting fly. His effort was tame. The hapless Bogdan spilt it. Lampard, in time-honoured fashion, was following up to finish.
"Young Adam Bogdan's going to have a terrific career, but the third and fourth goals should have been basic saves," his manager, Owen Coyle, said.
Lampard's third bore distinct similarities to his first.
This time Didier Drogba was his supplier, but the midfielder finished with similar assurance and from a comparable distance.
Five goals was, Villas-Boas said: "Something that fills us with pride. We think we have deserved it for quite some time.
"We were not able to find a result with this expression before. But if you look at other games, we were creating the same volume of opportunities."
Playing merely for pride, Bolton rallied.
Dedryck Boyata scored, Kevin Davies was denied by a goal-line clearance and Chris Eagles hit a post.
"One or two showed a strength of character," Coyle added. So, in their own ways, did Lampard and Sturridge.