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Chelsea 2-0 Stoke


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Chelsea 2-0 Stoke City

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Goals from Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba handed Chelsea a deserved victory over a resolute Stoke City, despite a Frank Lampard penalty miss.

The Blues were not quite at their imperious best but Carlo Ancelotti's side were able to dispose of a Stoke side who had been widely written off before a ball had even been kicked. And though ultimately the Midlanders were soundly beaten, Tony Pulis and his players will be proud of a resilient performance that limited the free-scoring champions to just the two goals.

Although it could have been more but for a combination of Thomas Sorensen and the Stoke crossbar; the Dane first saving a tamely-struck Lampard penalty before denying Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge with good saves in the second half, whilst a superb Ashley Cole volley rebounded off the woodwork with the Blues in the lead.

But Stoke offered more than both Wigan and West Bromwich Albion combined, with Petr Cech making a good save from Dean Whitehead's low effort, whilst Glen Whelan's deflected effort hit the crossbar with the Czech custodian well-beaten.

The team that started was the same as the one that demolished the Baggies 6-0 at Stamford Bridge a fortnight earlier and they would have had a similarly early breakthrough had Lampard's tame penalty been struck with more conviction. The England star's shot was easily saved by Sorenson and when Stoke peppered Cech's goal with a number of half-chances, there was evidence that the visitors were willing to at least have a go.

Ashley Cole had earlier fired wide wastefully after an excellent passing move, whilst Drogba stung Sorenson's fists with a fiercely-hit freekick. Essien then headed over from a Lampard corner, but the Blues were finally beginning to exert their influence over matters.

Their efforts were rewarded when Malouda clipped the ball around the advancing Sorenson after a breath-taking run by John Terry, who had done well to steal the ball from Stoke's record signing Kenwyne Jones. The Chelsea captain had played the perfect through-ball to the French star, and Malouda made no mistake in scoring his fourth goal of the season, and his third in three games against today's opposition.

Cole then hit the bar with a superb volley after being played in by Drogba, whilst Lampard hooked a volley well wide. It had been an unusually poor showing from the Blues vice-captain, having made a number of loose passes in addition to his penalty miss.

Drogba then produced the best out of Sorenson after the interval when his powerful header from close range was kept out by the well-position Dane. But whilst he was lacking his typical incisive presence up front, he was up to his usual tricks in a defensive sense and made a smart block from an Etherington effort that had evaded the stranded Cech.

But whilst the Blues were dominating possession, they were struggling to open up a determined Stoke rearguard. A warning came when substitute Whelan's effort was deflected on to the bar by the challenge of Terry. Cech had been wrong-footed and was grateful to claim the loose ball.

Moments later Chelsea had a penalty after a foul on Anelka by Sorenson. The Frenchman had been hacked down after trying to round the keeper, and with Lampard having been taken off, Drogba stepped up to comfortably score the second goal for the hosts and his fourth in three games.

There was time for the Blues' Brazilian contingent to have their say on matters - Alex made an excellent tackle inside the box to maintain the clean sheet whilst new signing Ramires made his Stamford Bridge bow as a substitute for the excellent Essien.

At the other end, there were a number of chances for a third goal - Sturridge found Sorenson's midriff with a long-range strike and then rolled an effort wide, whilst Kalou failed to capitalise on a golden opportunity when he was denied by Sorenson.

Three games; three wins - 14 goals scored and none conceded. The Blues head in to an international break top of the pile by two points, ahead of second-placed Arsenal who struggled to victory at Blackburn earlier in the day.

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Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ferreira , Alex, Terry ©, Cole; Essien (Ramires 83), Mikel, Lampard (Kalou 71); Anelka (Sturridge 80), Drogba, Malouda

Stoke (4-4-2): Sorensen; Huth, Shawcross ©, Faye, Collins; Wilkinson, Delap (Pugh 83), Whitehead, (Whelan 50), Etherington; Walters, Jones (Fuller 67)

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 15, Florent Malouda

florent-malouda-pic-getty-234882243.jpg

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For me Man Of The Match also Malouda or Ashley Cole or even Drogba. All three very active, very agile, very passionate. Drogba has one hell of a form, plays stunningly beautiful yet effective football. Malouda up and running for another great season, too. Four goals in three matches already, he's learned how to score finally, maybe we can expect 20-25 goals from him this season. That would be fantastic as people were wondering where the goals should come from if not from Drogba or Lampsy.

Happy for Ramires' debut, was very short though and Sturridge's part was short too but very impressive. Kalou should've scored once, but still he's probably our very best impact sub. Hope it's nothing serious with JT's injury.

Many positives from this match, but we're not yet anywhere near 100% despite 3 wins from 3 matches with 14 goals scored and none conceded... wow.

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