Potters piped by Chelsea
Written By: Robert Halter
Early Premier League pace setters Chelsea attempted to be the first side to beat Stoke City in the division during the new season with the Potters drawing all four of their matches so far, as the Blues lost their winning start with a goalless draw at West London neighbours Queens Park Rangers in last Saturday’s match at Loftus Road. It was back to business at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea came off the back of a 2-2 home draw with Juventus in the UEFA Champions League as the Blues looked to extend their unbeaten league run against the Potters to thirteen games. On six minutes from a Juan Mata corner, Fernando Torres was unable to find his range with a header. Although it was Stoke City that were close to opening their account on nineteen minutes, after Ashley Cole had pulled down Jonathan Walters and from Glen Whelan’s resulting free kick, Walters crashed a header against the Chelsea crossbar. In the twenty fifth minute, a floating ball in by Mata, set Torres free, who brought the ball down but could not find a connection when one on one with Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal. On thirty six minutes, captain for the match, Petr Cech made his first block by stopping a long range blast by Marc Wilson and then within a minute, Cech dived low to his left and kept out a Michael Kightly header with Gary Chall clearing the danger, as despite the Blues first half possession, it was the Potters who had come nearest to scoring. Five minutes into the re-start, Mata touched the ball onto Oscar, who tested the Potters goalkeeper for the first time in the match with a low drive that was smothered by the body of Begovic. After Victor Moses pulled on a Chelsea shirt at home for the first time to replace Eden Hazard, Stoke City new boy Michael Owen made his debut for the Potters in place of Charlie Adam. Moses then set up Oscar on sixty six minutes which required a one handed save by Begovic to keep out the strike at his near post. This was then matched by a soaring effort by Oscar three minutes later which went fractions wide, after Ramires had supplied the pass. The Potters substitutes combined on seventy nine minutes, as Owen’s looping cross was headed on by Kenwyne Jones, a replacement for Peter Crouch, and Matthew Etherington, who was on for Kightly, flashed a shot narrowly wide of the target for Stoke’s first attempt of the second half. Finally the Blues got the breakthrough from the most unlikely of sources in the eighty fifth minute, when Branislav Ivanovic’s low cross brought a cheeky back hill by Mata which put Blues left back Cole in the clear and with a crafted chip, Cole lifted the ball over the advancing Begovic into the back of the net to secure a 1-0 win that extended Chelsea’s advantage at the top of the Premiership.