Chelsea 3-0 Stoke City - Just what we needed heading into PSG.
Sitting having lunch in the Chelsea Kitchen ahead of the game, five Coaches drove past with the S...
Sitting having lunch in the Chelsea Kitchen ahead of the game, five Coaches drove past with the Stoke City supporters heading to the ground well in advance of the game and I wondered just what could their side do to our season later that day? The answer? Literally nothing!
Chelsea dominated the game and as time moved by in the first half it became clear, it was only a matter of time before Chelsea scored. Despite a cagey first ten minutes or so, Stoke offered very little with Peter Crouch becoming more and more isolated up against Gary Cahill and John Terry.
When Stoke did have possession of the ball, they created very little with it. I can recall just one clear chance being created by the visitors as Arnautovic failed to control a ball over the top when he was in on goal.
Chelsea's team selection raised a few eyebrows with the likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard and David Luiz all rested and moved to the bench. Frank Lampard came back into the side to Nemanja Matic who had been cup tied for the Champions League. The also cup tied Mohamed Salah started as part of our attacking three alongside Willian and Andre Schurrle. Our back four remained the same as always with Fernando Torres up front.
The only criticism I could have about the first half performance was that at times we needed a little bit more urgency in our play. We were pressing well, winning the ball back and attacking Stoke but as they dropped deeper with numbers behind the ball our play slowed down. We just needed to really go at them, get to the byline and put them under pressure more.
The second half was pretty much a dead rubber because we were so dominant and if anything, we just wondered how many we would score as time and time again, every time they played the ball forward, it would just come back again as Chelsea won it and then pressed forward.
It was just the performance and the result we needed after two bad defeats and gives us confidence moving forward to Wednesday against PSG.
The Goals (highlights here):
It was good to see Salah score again. More good Chelsea pressure and Matic pops up down our left wing, holds off a challenge and picks out a pass to Salah from the byline and he fires the ball low into the corner to make it 1-0.
The second was scored by Frank Lampard after slotting home his rebounded penalty saved by Begovic at the first attempt. Good work from Hazard and Salah had led to the penalty with Wilkinson chopping down Salah in the box.
The third goal was an absolute peach from Willian. Picking up the ball in the midfield with people making runs off the ball either side, he cut inside and curled a shot right into the far corner around the defender giving Begovic in goal no chance.
Overall it was a solid win and an important three points. Everyone had a good or decent game and contributed to the win but as I said, we never looked like losing.
Outstanding performers would be Andre Schurrle for his work rate, Matic in the middle for his presence and influence throughout, Salah for his performance and his part in the first two goals and Willian for his goal and overall performance.
Fernando Torres worries me at the moment. In the first half he looked sharp and hungry and had a couple of half chances but nothing clear cut. Based on the fact that Stoke dropped deep in numbers it was always going to be difficult for him to be played in behind. The second half he looked tired and leggy.
One final note, it was great to see Ashley Cole back on the pitch ahead of Azpilicueta in a forward area with the game being over. He looked comfortable and if he hadn't been away.
So we now head into midweek and PSG and need a 2-0 win to go through. Anything is possible!