Post by Football News on Dec 30, 2017 18:51:39 GMT
Chelsea 5 - 0 Stoke
Chelsea’s Davide Zappacosta completes crushing of dire Stoke
Home team scorers Antonio Rudiger 3 Danny Drinkwater 9 Rodriguez Pedro 23 da Silva Willian 73 Pen Davide Zappacosta 88
With this simple victory Chelsea ambled a little closer to Manchester City at the top of the table and ridiculed the weakness of Stoke City’s squad. At no point did this match seem an authentic contest, Mark Hughes’s improvised side appearing like ragtag underlings even before Antonio Rüdiger opened the scoring in the third minute. Danny Drinkwater, Pedro, Willian and Davide Zappacosta amused themselves by adding their names to score sheet after that.
Chelsea omitted key players such as Eden Hazard and Cesc Fàbregas in advance of Wednesday’s showdown with Arsenal but that was an unnecessary precaution, since the hosts did not have to exert themselves to trounce these woeful visitors.
Hughes was deprived of his first-choice defenders and also chose to leave out other regular starters – thus increasing the pressure on him for Monday’s low-brow encounter with Newcastle – but the shabbiness of the side sent out against the champions spoke badly about the state of Stoke. It also alluded to the widening gap between the Premier League’s mega-rich and the merely very rich but, that fact notwithstanding, Stoke should be better than they are.
Even when at full-strength Stoke have the most porous defence in the Premier League so they were never likely to avoid a spanking here with a hotchpotch lineup. Tom Edwards and Josh Tymon, 18-year-old full-backs, might have thought that they would benefit from sound help from senior team-mates during their early days in the Premier League but instead they were surrounded by experienced players who made no impact.
Charlie Adam and Ibrahim Afellay had not started in the league all season and proved unable to keep up with proceedings while it mattered, and the same could be said of Saido Berahino, making his first start since September, and a few others, including Darren Fletcher and Kevin Wimmer. Stoke’s second string looks third-rate.
Two years ago Adam scored a famous goal at Stamford Bridge from inside his own half and it rapidly became clear that he would probably have to do the same again if the visitors were to have any chance of finding the net this time – because it certainly did not look like they were going to be able to piece together a move that would carry them that far forward.
Geoff Cameron shanked the ball out of play to concede a corner after 17 seconds, establishing the tone for what followed. Stoke fell behind two minutes later, Rüdiger jumping between three static opponents to nod a free-kick by Willian into the net from six yards.
In the ninth minute Drinkwater treated himself to his first goal since his transfer from Leicester City, and what a beauty it was. After a deft piece of control with his thigh, the midfielder swept the ball into the top corner of the net from 25 yards. Jack Butland did not even make a token effort to save it. But the goalkeeper soon got busy to thwart Álvaro Morata after the striker was sent clear by Willian.
Mostly Stoke looked servile and it seemed only a matter of time before Chelsea would help themselves to more goals. The third came in the 23rd minute following nifty interplay between Pedro and Willian. The Spaniard crowned the piece by jinking past Edwards and placing a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
With all semblance of a contest put to bed, Chelsea effectively donned their dressing gown and slippers mid-way through the first period. Lowering the intensity allowed Stoke to drift into the game and the visitors even went so far as to put the ball in the net before the break, but the referee spotted a handball by Mame Birame Diouf before the Senegalese striker shot past Thibaut Courtois.
The only source of frustration for Chelsea, meanwhile, was Morata’s strange lack of sharpness before he was replaced in the 71st minute. It was if the striker was contaminated by the ineptitude of a defence that never looked able to contain him. Butland’s resistance was honourable, in fairness, and the goalkeeper deserved praise for getting the better of the Chelsea striker in another one-on-one duel mid-way through the second half.
The irrepressible Willian brought another decent stop from Butland two minutes later with a shot from 20 yards. Fast-forward another minute and Willian presented Pedro with an opportunity to beat the Stoke goalkeeper from close range but Pedro sidefooted over the bar.
Willian deserved to get among the goalscorers and was invited to do so when Cameron clunked into him to concede a penalty. The Brazilian sent Butland the wrong way from the spot. Zappacosta joined in the fun late on, cracking a low shot into the net from 20 yards.