Chelsea won where Tottenham had lost to move three points ahead of their London rivals and strengthen their claim on a Champions League place, though Fernando Torres is still waiting for his first goal in five appearances for his new side.
The visitors tried the dream team here for the first time, Torres paired up front with Drogba, and found the option underwhelming. Drogba was ineffective in the first half and came off early in the second, and it was only when Salomon Kalou took his place that Chelsea began to pull away.
Ian Holloway conceded in advance that Blackpool were not the same team without Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell, both suspended, but promised to do his best with the options available and send out a team to attack.
Having noted that his side conceded a goal every 10 minutes in the fixture at Stamford Bridge the Blackpool manager perhaps ought to have been more worried about his defence, although that has not been the Seasiders' style this season.
"I reckon we still need at least two more wins to stay up but I would have settled for this situation before a ball was kicked," Holloway said. "We're still buoyant."
Chelsea are in a good moment, according to Carlo Ancelotti but they too had some adjustments to make, Drogba starting in place of Nicolas Anelka as they stuck with the two-pronged attack who brought success against Manchester United.
Blackpool began as their manager had promised. David Carney brought the first save of the game from Petr Cech, albeit a fairly routine one, before the same player was presented with a shooting chance by a misjudgment from David Luiz, only to wait a fraction too long and allow José Bosingwa to tidy up.
Chelsea were rather more circumspect about getting players forward, as if hampered by their new 4-4-2 system. With Drogba and Torres permanently in advanced positions Chelsea passed the ball fluently enough across midfield but had difficulty releasing it to the strikers, perhaps missing the greater flexibility of their old system.
Just as Blackpool were congratulating themselves on going almost 20 minutes without conceding a goal, they fell for the sucker punch of allowing their visitors to score from a set piece. Worse than that, it was the well-worn John Terry header from a corner routine. The Chelsea captain timed his run well and once he met Frank Lampard's cross with a free header on the six-yard line there was predictably little Richard Kingson could do to keep the ball out.
Chelsea were able to relax a little after that and play mostly in Blackpool's half of the pitch. Torres saw a shot saved just after the goal, then Bosingwa cut in from the right to release a dipping shot that Kingson had to stretch to tip round his post.
Blackpool found themselves playing on the break, although they also found David Luiz is uncomfortable when ball-carriers take him on. The £20m defender was embarrassed when Jason Puncheon swept easily past him and Cech's attempt at a save was not much better, the goalkeeper touching the shot on to his upright and being relieved to see the ball bounce back out. Cech also had to be alert to deal with a cross from Evatt that threatened to catch him out at his far post.
By half time there was no real sign of the Torres-Drogba partnership developing into anything close to an understanding. On one occasion Drogba was so busy lecturing Torres about the space he should have run into that he neglected to notice the ball was still in play and Blackpool were bringing it out of defence. This is a work in progress, though the pair do not seem quite ready to terrorise Champions League defences.
Drogba was hurt in a collision with James Beattie while helping out his defence in the 50th minute, and spent the next five minutes letting the Chelsea bench know he was in far too much pain to continue. To jeers from the crowd Drogba variously clutched his back, wandered towards the tunnel and pulled out of a challenge with Alex Baptiste so that an initially reluctant Ancelotti had no choice but to allow him to come off, sending on Kalou as a replacement.
Ironically, Torres and Kalou combined almost immediately for Chelsea's second goal. It was only a penalty, and a softish one at that, yet it was more than Drogba and Torres had achieved together in the entire first half. Taking the ball from Ashley Cole on the left, Torres showed instant control to turn and play the ball forward into Kalou's path, only for Ian Evatt to stretch out a leg and invite a tumble.
Lampard beat Kingson from the spot and then again from open play three minutes later, this time Kalou turning provider with a measured diagonal pass. Torres did bring a save from Mark Halstead before the end, Blackpool having switched goalkeeper after the third goal, but Chelsea were unable to match the four goals they scored in September. Adam and Campbell played in that match, yet still Blackpool will feel better once they return.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010