Blues have spring in their steps as Terry returns

IT is too early to talk of Chelsea’s renaissance, but on a day warm enough to suggest that spring is stirring the green shoots of recovery are beginning to peep through for Jose Mourinho.

An ultra-functional victory extended the champions’ winning streak to four matches; a dominant performance from Petr Cech served as a reminder of what was missed as the goalkeeper recovered from a fractured skull; and, crucially, there was the most welcome of cameos from John Terry.

The visitors should have been out of sight by half-time but their penalty-box profligacy allowed Charlton to barge their way back into the game and they might have snatched a point had two gilt-edged chances fallen to a striker rather than Amady Faye.

There were also yet more rumours surrounding Mourinho’s long-term future, with the Portuguese reported to have admitted to his friends and colleagues that he is bound for Real Madrid at the end of the season. All hotly denied, of course.

At least his team’s title ambitions are looking brighter, and with Terry returning for the first time since mid-December, optimism is beginning to mushroom in west London.

Chelsea are a different prospect with Terry marshalling their back-line.

In the eight Premiership games he missed with an injury to his lower back, Mourinho’s side have leaked 10 goals.

Terry will quickly stiffen that soft centre, and with Cech — still resplendent in his protective head-gear — back to his brilliant best, Chelsea are suddenly looking ominous again.

Frank Lampard is another talismanic figure in west London, and it was he who secured this scrappiest of victories.

An eighth goal in as many matches — swept into the bottom corner from 20 yards to leave Scott Carson grasping at thin air in the 18th minute — left Mourinho purring.

Alan Pardew was no less buoyant. Charlton were unrecognisable from the shambolic shower who stumbled from disaster to disaster under Iain Dowie and Les Reed, and while their condition is more critical this morning than at any time this season — effectively six points adrift of safety, given goal difference — hopes of an unlikely escape remain high.

The Addicks appear to be benefiting from Pardew’s enlightened approach.

The manager plans to instigate a spot of Feng Shui at the training ground.

“I’ve got the builders going in there while I take the squad to Spain for a few days,” he said. “I want to change the dynamics and the discipline of the buildings and make sure that when the players come back, they will see that we are going forward as a club.”

Opta Fact: Charlton have not won a London derby since New Years Eve 2005.

Opta Fact: Frank Lampard has scored in each of Chelsea’s last five Premiership wins.

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