Chelsea ahead of EPL pack, with 3-point lead after winning against Stoke
John Terry’s early header and Cesc Fabregas’s second-half strike restored Chelsea’s three-point Premier League lead heading into a busy Christmas programme after a 2-0 win at Stoke City on Tuesday morning (Dec 23, Singapore time).
Stoke beat Chelsea in this fixture last season but the hosts were always up against it at the Britannia Stadium when Terry met a Fabregas corner with a powerful downward header.
He timed his run to perfection and beat Asmir Begovic with a powerful header for his first league goal in over a year.
Mark Hughes’s side tried to harry and hustle Chelsea but the superior class of the leaders always shone through.
Courtois, back after a muscular injury, was rarely troubled although the Belgian needed to produce a fine save midway through the first half from Steven N’Zonzi’s deflected strike.
Top scorer Diego Costa should have increased Chelsea’s lead when Stoke tried and failed to catch him offside, the Spaniard timing his run perfectly – only to skew his shot wide.
Fabregas might have been awarded a penalty when he appeared to be clipped by Ryan Shawcross soon after half-time but Stoke escaped.
Charlie Adam drilled wide from the edge of box following neat approach play from Stoke.
But Chelsea soaked up the pressure and made the points safe when Eden Hazard, who needed lengthy treatment in stoppage time, fed Fabregas and the Spaniard beat Begovic 12 mins from time.
“These victories mean more than three points, to win and get three points the players need the right spirit and mentality, to win here they must be a really very good team with the capacity to adapt to Stoke’s style of play...
"Now we have to focus on the three matches we still have until the end of this period" - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told the BBC after the match
Chelsea, who host West Ham United on Friday, have 42 points from 17 games with Manchester City, who visit West Brom the same day, on 39 and Manchester United on 32.
After that, they will then make the trip to Southampton on Sunday (Dec 28) and then it's onward to another London derby with Tottenham on New Year’s Day.
Sources: Reuters, Reddit