The Blues edged closer to their first Premier League title in 5 years after their 2-1 win against a tough Stoke City side on Saturday.
Eden Hazard converted from the spot to give Chelsea the lead after Fabregas was fouled inside the box in the 39th minute. Not long after, Courtois was spotted off his line by Charlie Adam and the Stoke City midfielder did not hesitate to take a shot from 62 metres out, and Stoke City were level before half time.
In the 2nd half, Asmir Begovic turned from the hero to villain after his error led to Chelsea’s winner. His throw was intercepted by Willian, who passed it on to Hazard. The latter made an amazing run into the box and selflessly passed it on to Remy, who put the ball into an open goal and confirmed all the 3 points for Chelsea.
Now here are the things we learned from this important victory:
DIEGO COSTA’S INJURY A MAJOR CONCERN
Despite being benched in this game at the start, Costa came on for Oscar during half-time and was forced off just after 10 minutes with his hamstring problem arising again. The manager had admitted in the press conference that it was a risk playing the striker. In an attempt to find the winning goal, Jose introduced Costa at half-time but his plan backfired. Though he isn’t unhappy with his medical team or the will of the player, Costa’s absence in the upcoming games is a cause for concern.
Costa has been phenomenal for Chelsea this season with 19 Premier League goals and is set to miss out for a minimum of two weeks according to the manager. This means that Chelsea will have to face QPR, Man United and possibly Arsenal without the first choice striker.
EDEN HAZARD – PERFORMING WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT
There were concerns before the game that Hazard might be suffering from fatigue, but no such thing was seen once he got on the pitch as he put up a man of the match performance yet again.
He was involved in both the goals that Chelsea scored, scoring one and selflessly assisting the other. The Belgian tucked away the penalty with a certain composure that only world-class players possess and the runs he made in the 2nd half ensured that Chelsea had total control on the game.
By the looks of the things, Hazard has been putting up performances that might well earn him the player of the year award this season.
REMY GETS A DESERVED START
Loic Remy scored yet another winner for the Blues for the 2nd straight week, this time not from the bench. The striker has scored a goal for every 92 minutes he has played this season in all competitions. In other words, he has scored 7 goals in 7 starts he has made this season.
He was quick, made swift turns and was more than a handful for Stoke’s back four and finally got his goal in the 62nd minute just before he was taken off for Cuadrado. During the 62 minutes he played, he created a fair number of chances for himself which he failed to convert but kept getting better as the game progressed. With Diego Costa set to miss a few games, Remy can show what he has got and can establish a strong competition for Costa when he returns.
CHARLIE ADAM’S WONDER STRIKE & SAME OLD STOKE
It was a goal that brought back a lot of good old Premier League memories of Beckham, Alonso, Figueroa and Wayne Rooney. It all happened in the 44th minute of the first half after Adam caught Courtois off his line during a Chelsea corner and unleashed an audacious shot from inside his own half. The tall Belgian managed to get a hand to it but it was too late, and it was a wonderful 50th league goal for Adam.
On the other hand, Stoke City played their own style of football, sitting in deep, waiting to hit on the counter. They also put in a ‘physical effort’ or two when needed, earning them a fair number of yellows. Asmir Begovic put up a decent performance apart from conceding the 2nd goal, and if it weren’t for him, the margin of victory could have been bigger for the Blues.
FINISH LINE GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER
16 points. That, is the magic figure for Chelsea this time to be crowned Premier League champions for the first time since 2010. This scenario is applicable given City win all of their games which doesn’t seem to be that easy given that they still have to play Manchester United and Tottenham away from home.
Our part of the job is to get 5 wins and a draw from the remaining 8 games, 3 of which are against United (home), Arsenal (away) and Liverpool (home). The rest of the games won’t be a problem for the Blues given that they do not take these opponents lightly and pick up maximum points from these games.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni