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    Stoke 1-0 Chelsea Match Report

    Stoke host misfiring Chelsea, as The Special One was serving a stadium ban. This left the management duties to Steve Holland, Silvine Louro and Rui Faria. Both teams were suffering their worst ever Premier League start intensifying the importance of tonight’s game.

    The hosts fielded in form Jack Butland in goal. The Stoke City defence looked strong, keeping 3 clean sheets in their last 4 games. Their midfield trio consisted of Shaqiri, Bojan and Arnautovic, three players who possessed plenty of flare. Their leading goal scorer Johnathan Walters led the front line.

    The visitors saw a change in defence as Cahill lost his place to youngster Zouma. There was also a return for Matic in front of the back four. An attack minded midfield was played in Pedro, Willian and Hazard. With the Champions in desperate need of goals, blues fans hoped that Diego Costa would be the source.

    The opening half an hour was open, with both teams looking threatening early on.  Shaqiri attempted an acrobatic shot seconds after kick off, which fell off target. Pieters received a bloodied nose soon after, courtesy of Pedro’s high boot. Chelsea speedy midfield utilised their attributes as they hit Stoke hard on the counter. The final ball fell to Ramires who was only able to poke wide under pressure.

    Minutes later, Johnson attempted to curl the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal. His old teammate was equal to the shot. Ramires got another chance from long range to search for an opening goal. His volley dipped dangerously but Butland was quick to react as he pushed the ball over his crossbar.

    Shaqiri continued to look threatening. Quick feet from the Swiss international found space and floated the ball into the box. Walters was only able to head the ball over the crossbar.
    The final fifteen minutes of the half saw complete domination from the Champions. Wave after wave of attacks included a neat one-two between Costa and Pedro. The feisty striker manged to get a shot on target, only to be denied again by Butland. This period demonstrated the creative capabilities of the Blues as they kept possession well and carried out positive passing.

    The second half offered much aggression from both sides but Chelsea’s defensive frailties were highlighted once again. Bojan’s pin-point pass found Johnson down the right wing. The ball was played into the box where Walters couldn’t get clear shot away. However, the ball ultimately fell to Arnautovic who got up acrobatically and volleyed to open the scoring and send the Britannia into hysteria.

    The atmosphere at the Britannia intensified as Stoke continued to press high up the pitch. Arnautovic was close to doubling his tally for the night when he was able to get on the end of Shaqiri’s cross.

    Chelsea were unlucky not to equalise when Pedro found space and beat Butland with his curling shot. The ball ending up smashing the left post.

    The game plan became clear from both teams. Defensive Baba and Ramires were brought off along with Pedro while creative Fabregas and Oscar were brought on with an extra striker in Remy. As the game progressed, Stoke began to sit deeper as they invited Chelsea pressure. When countering, few players committed confirming their defensive mind set.

    With five minutes remaining, Remy had the chance to replicate his late equaliser from their League Cup clash. Going through on goal, he stepped past Butland but stumbled at the crucial moment. Unable to find his feet, he missed the target as another chance passed.
    Chelsea continued to press for an equaliser till the dying moments of the game but Stoke stayed resilient till the final whistle. Stokes defence once again proving to be their savour. This result continues to pile pressure onto the Chelsea manager as they sink lower into the Premier League table. The singing of his name by the fans shows support remains from the Stamford Bridge faithful however, question marks remain as to how long these results can continue until the famously impatient owner reacts.
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    Item Reviewed: Stoke 1-0 Chelsea Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Benjamin Allwright
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