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Chelsea 1-0 Stoke - views from the stands


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Interim manager Roberto di Matteo continued his perfect start to life in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat as his Chelsea side recorded a 1-0 victory over Stoke thanks to Didier Drogba's 100th Premier League goal.

The move - which saw Juan Mata assume the role of architect - resulted in Drogba confidently rounding Stoke custodian Asmir Begovic before slotting into an unguarded net. Chelsea hit the woodwork on three occasions through a John Terry header, a rasping effort from Branislav Ivanovic and Juan Mata's near-perfect free-kick. Meanwhile both John Terry and Gary Cahill went close with efforts from distance, Begovic pulled off a brilliant save to deny Drogba and Ivanovic headed over a presentable chance from a Frank Lampard corner.

Chelsea absolutely dominated the game - Stoke barely even troubled Petr Cech, who may as well have had the afternoon off. 1-0 flatters the Potters, who had Ricardo Fuller sent off for a ridiculous stamp on Ivanovic in the first half, an action which Stoke gaffer Tony Pulis instantly condemned.

A new feature here on TalkChelsea looks at the best analysis offered from our members - and remember, you can have your say as well! Here we reflect on the performance and the match's key incidents.

Result is the most important thing at the moment, I personally don't even care about the fluency or how pretty the gameplay is. Well done, could have easily been more hadn't we smashed the woodwork three or even more times

I'm positive we'll progress in the Champions League, we just need to win 2-0, that's it. We rested (well, partly) some of our key players, they should be fresh.

Positivity! I think people would still have been finding faults even if we would have got a second or third goal, which I don't think would have flattered us at all. We played well and did quite well to fashion as many chances as we did. Remember, Begovic made some good saves, whilst the woodwork proved to be our nemesis once again. This could easily have been one of those games, but we did the necessary and pulled through.

As for the Champions League, I think a little more realism must be employed. It sounds easy on paper to win 2-0 against Napoli, but their attacking qualities almost guarantee them a goal or two. I think Mikel is a must for that game as we will be relying on defensive rigidity to get us through. It'll be an interesting game; I think one thing that may help us is that Napoli will be naturally more cagey in the return leg, so if we can get an early goal and continue to apply the pressure, it could be a famous, famous night in our history.

Relaxed after we took the lead, something we seem to be doing way too often nowadays.

Anyway happy we got the 3 points, it is what matters the most at this stage of the season.

Meanwhile - Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool FT.

I do agree here. I think the boys expected to win this one quite comfortably, and I believe they would have done so. Whilst it was 11 against 11, we were exploiting space a lot easier as Stoke were willing to have a go. Then Fuller comes along trying to remove Ivanovic's manhood! After that Stoke sat back with two solid banks of four, and then Walters putting pressure on the man in possession. It was a simple but effective tactic from Pulis, but eventually we got our just rewards with the goal, and ultimately the three points. As you say, there is no sweeter tonic than that!

Another solid performance from Gary Cahill as well by the way!

Amen to that. Cahill has settled in beautifully well. I would say at present he is looking like our most consistent defensive player. The Terry-Cahill partnership has worked well in the past for England, and it looked solid yesterday. However, I would say that the style of both centre-halves is very similar, whilst the Luiz-Cahill pairing seems more complimentary of both players' qualities, as Luiz operates more as a sweeper than anything. However, back to Cahill - he impressed in all areas of the pitch. He had limited defending to do, but did it with minimum fuss, and he attacked with purpose. Like Terry and Luiz, he is a very good footballer and has good feet. I'd say we have three of the best attacking centre-backs in the Premier League, whilst Ivanovic is no slouch at right-back as well!

You all are hard to please.

Good performance, tons of chances, clean sheet. Most importantly, 3 points.

Concise and to-the-point - and spot on! Games like this can be easily over-analysed in terms to focusing on the negatives more than the positives. At this minute, the morale and confidence of the team is incredibly low, and the only known remedy is to be winning matches. Two wins (and clean sheets) on the bounce is a good foundation for us to move on.

We defending brilliantly! Created a lot of chances, dominated the middle. RDM made a good/bold move to bring on Mata in the 35th minutes, reminds of another manager who did that early in his career :lol:

Obviously, there are things to improve on. But I'm content at the moment, because 3 points were the most important thing. Bring on Napoli.

Good point on Mata, which brings me on to team selection. This seems to be the area where di Matteo is getting the greatest amount of stick. However, I think his team selection was interesting. Stoke are a physical side, whilst with Napoli on Wednesday night, it is imperative that the likes of Torres, Essien, Sturridge, Luiz and Mata (five players who have featured more than most in the last half-dozen matches) were given some sort of rest. Roberto's decision to bring on Mata was very bold, and I was also pleased with his positivity to take off Mikel and introduce Sturridge. One thing you can definitely say about his substitutions is that he is very, very positive. The decision to rest those players, as I say, was to give them a bit of a rest, but bringing Mata on was very astute, as he has so often been the key to open up tight defences this term. Overall I was pleased with his managerial performance.

Important 3 points, puts pressure on Arsenal and made even better by Liverpool's loss. Performance wasn't great, Stoke went down to 10 men fairly early which pretty much meant they presented no attacking threat for the duration of the game so it became a question of could we break them down? It turns out that yes, we could, once.

The game did highlight the continued problem of creativity in the side. It doesn't matter who the manager is, if he has to rely on playing the likes of Kalou, Mikel and Ramires on the right wing in the hope of breaking down a mid table side then he is destined to fail in the long run, it is a situation that desperately needs to be fixed in the Summer. Far too many times all we seemed to have were shots from long range, most guilty of this was Frank Lampard whose only thought these days seems to be "shoot" that isn't good enough anymore, there has to be more craft in the in the team.

That being said, if there was ever a reason to be optimistic about the future it is Juan Mata. Played in a central position and looked on an entirely different level to everyone else on the pitch, his clever 1/2 touch play, his darting movement, his jinking runs and the clever slip passes, the lad is the talisman of the team and his outstanding assist for Drogba won us a hugely valuable 3 points today, he borders on the sublime.

Cahill did quite well at the back when he was called into action, infact this was probably the best I've seen him in a Chelsea jersey, dealt very well in the 2 one on one situations he was forced into. Drogba took his goal very well, managed to find some room in the box and delivered a cool finish, nice to see that one of our strikers can still score.

Wednesday night the initiative will be with us to break down Napoli and score, all the while be aware of their lethal counterattacks. Our attack will have to be far more creative, far more varied, far more fluid and far more penetrating than it was today if we are to qualify.

Very good post. As I've already discussed some of your points I'll refer to your argument about creativity. We are indeed terribly low on imagination in this side. Our three most inventive players are the three forwards who were left out today, but you can see Roberto's reasoning for this - Stoke are a physical side, and after going a man down they became especially content to sit back and soak up the pressure. A more direct approach has been key to past successes against the Potters, and playing Drogba and a couple of enforcers in Mikel and Meireles is testament to this. However, we are still desperately short of options. If it isn't Mata, it's Sturridge or Torres who opens up the defence. If it's neither of them, it's nobody. That must be addressed in the summer.

At the outset, happy with the result. But only that.

RDM's team selection hinged on the negative. Leaving out two of our biggest threats going forward when we're struggling for goals and inspiration upfront was baffling. Trying to match Stoke with like-for-like physical players is something I don't agree with. Space was going to be everything so to have players who can manipulate and utilize it should have been been the emphasis. Hopefully the Mata pass that led to the goal will serve as an eye-opener.

Performance wise, more of the same. Lack of invention, any meaningful pace or tempo. Would have been naive to expect instant changes but even so, what was on offer wasn't too encouraging. Confidence matters nevertheless, let's hope this gives us the impetus to try and make a match of it against Napoli.

I couldn't help but notice how every player who's openly supported AVB before and since the sacking was left out - Mata, Sturridge, Meireles (substituted 35 or so mins in) while the established set-up survived 90 mins.

I want to focus on your final point here. This is something I have discussed in the past. After witnessing first-hand what happened to Villas-Boas, I highly doubt RDM is going to be as cavalier in his criticisms of the old guard. Instead he has recognised the issue of player power, and it seems obvious he wants to keep them sweet. However I believe the reason for the inclusion of Drogba, Lampard, Mikel et al. is both for tactical reasons and to rest our three main attackers. Granted the Premier League should be our priority, however I feel at this moment in time, even with the way we are performing, that team was good enough to beat Stoke, and it would have been before they lost Fuller and went so negative!

Very good result and not a bad performance at all, Gary Cahill was a fucking wall today, was an absolutely fantastic defensive display. Didn't commit himself or do anything rash, contained and went in when he needed to. Ash was better today too, was a the Ash we all know and Lamps was also pretty good too. In some ways the sending off made it harder for us because it made Stoke's decision for them. They were simply gonna try n hold on, they were really poor today btw. Mata made the difference when he came on i feel and it was a great move by Robbie to get him on early after they went down to 10, we needed as much time as possible with the spanish genius on the pitch to break through.

We hit the woodwork 3 times too. The goal was nice, shit defending from their left side but Drogs finished it really nicely.

Big win, very satisfied.

Now, I try not to quote myself in these topics as I get my own say in response to member opinions, but I feel that this is a positive way to round off the views and opinions from this weekend's game; delivered from the mouths of your's truly, and a certain Didier Drogba...

I don't know why people are complaining. We were resting our usual front three for the Napoli game, is that so hard for people to recognise? Yes, it was a shit game, but we totally dominated them. 1-0 is a flattering scoreline to Stoke, who, to be fair, defended valiantly. They didn't park the bus; they parked the entire depot. Games like this aren't won on performances but instead moments of individual quality, and Drogba and Mata provided that today. If this is how you react to a very good result against a hard-to-beat team, I'm avoiding this place on Wednesday if Naples put us out of our misery! This was an excellent result against a tricky opponent, and rather than focusing on two wins and two clean sheets in the last couple of matches, people are being very defeatist.

Didier Drogba speaking on Final Score: "To play Stoke is always difficult. Tactically they have a good shape, and we focused on the win today. It was a lovely pass from Juan Mata, knowing their defence played really high. We brought him in because he can change a game. He's very good."

And that brings me to the concluding thoughts...

Conclusion - there seems to be a split consensus after yesterday's match. The apparent optimist-pessimist divide has been re-opened, but what it boils down to is the fact that under di Matteo, performances have improved, albeit only slightly. Regardless of that, two wins from two is a welcome return from the Italian, and we all know that further victories will help breed confidence; the currency of the modern game. As it has already been said, 1-0 doesn't suggest a professional performance or dominance of the game - yet after Fuller was dismissed, Stoke reverted back to their normal, horrible style of defensive football. It was a tough challenge for Chelsea - one they overcame thanks to Mata's vision and Drogba's quality in the penalty area. Di Matteo received a bit of stick for his team selection, but frankly, the side he put out was good enough to beat Stoke yesterday, even if the performance wasn't quite up to the standard of one of the more recent clashes with the Potters....

Remember you can have your say on today's game by checking out the post-match thread - discuss the game, analyse the key moments and vote for your man of the match! You can do that by clicking HERE.

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I thought the performance was mediocre at best. There were too many examples of poor control and generally our tempo showed no improvement

on what it has been. I find it annoying that when these views were stated they are jumped on as being negative and miserable . I was delighted

we managed a win . I have said I wont care how crap we play against Napoli if we win 2 0 . I wont care how crap we play for the rest of the

season if we can end up 3rd or 4th and win the FA cup ,,I will be in 7th heaven . BUT it will still have been a shit season that I will be glad to

see the back of.

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