Premier League – Chelsea put seven past Sunderland
Chelsea’s league form had stuttered prior to the arrival of Sunderland, with the Blues registering draws against West Ham and Birmingham before having to come from behind to dispatch Fulham in their last league game 19 days ago.
Michael Ballack added another seven minutes after the break before Bolo Zenden scored against his old club to reduce the deficit.
Anelka grabbed his second before Lampard did the same – with a header – to make it seven for Chelsea in stoppage time while Darren Bent responded less than a minute later.
The Blues lined up without African Cup of Nations stars Didier Drogba, John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien and Salomon Kalou but dominated from the first whistle with Ashley Cole heading wide from Joe Cole‘s cross.
And the home side broke the deadlock when Anelka drifted away from his marker Lorik Cana, beat the offside trap and latched onto Ballack’s through ball before rounding Sunderland goalkeeper Marton Fulop and slotting home.
But Chelsea were at their fluent best and looked dangerous in every attack with Malouda, brilliant throughout, capping a driving run from midfield with a pin-point strike into the far corner after 22 minutes.
And the marauding Ashley Cole kept a cool head to wrong-foot Cana and flick a delightful finish past Fulop for the 18,000th goal in Premier League history after John Terry floated a long pass forward from defence.
Chelsea fans concerned about the absence of Drogba would have been reassured by the performance of Anelka who, playing as a lone striker, drifted along the line and proved a menace for Sunderland.
The Frenchman, who nearly got his second less than a minute earlier, was at the heart of Chelsea’s fourth, moving wide before playing in Ashley Cole on the overlap with Lampard volleying home from close range.
Carlo Ancelotti had the luxury of substituting Ashley Cole and Terry at half-time and Yuri Zhirkov provided no let-up on the left.
Fulop sensationally tipped Anelka’s long-distance shot on to the bar after the break and Joe Cole cut through the heart of Sunderland’s defence with a superb cross after 52 minutes which Ballack, completely unmarked, routinely headed past Fulop.
Zenden, a half-time substitute, got his name on the scoresheet against the club he played 43 times for with a half-volley from the edge of the box after Kenwyne Jones controlled a long diagonal ball on his chest.
But Anelka continued to torment the visitors and capitalised on some suspect goalkeeping to net his 10th goal of the season.
Fulop flapped at a long cross and gifted the ball to the former Arsenal man who took one touch and stroked the ball into an empty net only to miss a glorious chance for a hat-trick after 76 minutes.
Lampard looked to have completed the scoring in the first minute of stoppage with a header from Anelka’s cross but Bent was on hand to score the ninth goal of the afternoon.
Bent has scored against each of the big four teams this season – the first player to achieve this since Bolton’s Michael Ricketts in the 2001/02 season – and the striker continued that run by poking home from close range.
But it was scant consolation for the hit man whose side have now gone eight Premier League matches without a win.
George Scott / Eurosport