It was a night of some Premier League action when Jose Mourinho’s top placed Chelsea travelled to a cold, wet and windy night at Brittania Stadium to square up against the Mark Hughes’ 13th placed Stoke City.
Given the physical nature of this fixture, Jose opted for Mikel alongside Matic in the midfield as Fabregas slotted in the No.10 role ahead of Oscar. Meanwhile, Courtois returned from injury to replace Cech while Azpilicueta replaced Luis at LB.
With Manchester City hitting top form, it was important for the Blues to secure the three points from this match. Let’s see how the game panned out in our initial reaction:
– For all the talks of the difficulty surrounding this fixture we couldn’t have asked for a better start as John Terry opened the scoring for the Blues in the second minute by the knocking the ball in the back of the net from a Fabregas corner. Brillian stuff from the captain who scored his first goal in the Premier League after nearly a year. Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City.
– Stoke made their intentions clear from the start as the Potters were quite physical with their tackles and general play. Hazard and Willian were the two players who were on the receiving ends quite a few times in the entire half. In fact, Phil Bardsley was very fortunate to stay on the pitch after a stupid challenge on Hazard on the wings. You could understand why Jose opted for Mikel in the midfield, precisely to counter that physicality in the middle of the park.
– The noise level at the Brittania Stadium was brilliant as Chelsea fans were very vocal with their support. It was good to hear the Jose Mourinho chants in the stadium after all that has been said about us. Potters, meanwhile, booed off Diego Costa for some reasons. It would have been fitting if the Spaniard had scored in the 31st minute after he got behind Shawcross, just to see his shot miss the target by inches.
– Chelsea controlled the major amount of possession in the last few minutes as the first half ended with Chelsea leading the game 1-0.
It was a perfect start for Chelsea as we grabbed a goal in the 2nd minute. But, with Stoke with their physical, sometimes cynical play we had to be content with the one goal lead. Phil Bardsley with a cynical challenge on Hazard and clear shirt pulling on Costa was very lucky not to be sent off. But that’s how it is when you visit the Potters in their own backyard. A typical Monday night at Stoke and surely more to come after the break.
– The second half started with Jose Mourinho making no changes to our starting eleven as we looked to increase our slender lead and kill off this match before anyone gets killed. It was a fierce and physical start to the half, similar to the first 45 minutes, as Stoke tried to impose their physicality against an equally competent Chelsea side. Gripping stuff at Brittania Stadium.
– Chelsea dominated the start of the second half as Diego Costa looked very menacing for the Blues. The Spaniard might not have scored a goal, but he did much more for the team with his hold up plays and physicality. His battles with Stoke players, especially Ryan Shawcross, were the highlights of the night.
– Chelsea took their foot a bit off the paddle around the 70th minute as the home side grew into the fixture. Arnautovic and Charlie Adams had half chances to equalise for Potters, but still nothing dangerous to truly test Courtois.
– The game was put to bed in the 78th minute as Fabregas put one past Begovic to make it 2-0 Chelsea and surely game over for Stoke. It was Fabregas who received the ball from Mikel before passing it to Hazard in the box, the Belgian in turn returned the favor to the passing maestro who rounded off Shawcross to put it past Begovic. Not the best of finishes but one we would certainly take any time!
– Mourinho introduced Schurrle for Willian in the 80th minute as the first sub of the night and the German immediately made an impact with an unselfish pass to Costa in the box but the striker failed to get his first goal of the night and was subbed off in favor of Drogba in the 85th minute. The Striker might not have scored a goal, but there’s no doubt he was immense tonight.
– There was no twist in the tale in the final few minutes at Brittania Stadium as we wrapped the fixture with a 2-0 win over a tough opponent. Although we did have an Eden Hazard injury scare. Fortunately, it didn’t look serious as the Belgian was subbed off for Kurt Zouma in the injury time.
So after this win, we go to the Christmas top of the league, 3 points clear off Manchester City. Will see you all next time, till then, KTBFFH!
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt