The Austrian struck against the run of play on 54 minutes as the West Londoners slumped to another loss on a day when their manager Jose Mourinho served a one-match stadium ban.
The visitors, who dominated the clash overall, tried and failed to force an equaliser, but the Potters would not be denied this evening.
Below, relive the drama with our live text commentary.
4.32pmWhere art thou Jose Mourinho? He's not at the Britannia this evening. Nope. The Portuguese serves out a one-match stadium ban for cussing the heck out of referee Jon Moss midway through Chelsea's defeat at West Ham a fortnight ago. Let's not beat around the bush - it was an explicit-laden rant which made Gordon Ramsey look like Aaron Ramsey, who famously never curses. It was F this. F that. Stick those F'ing cards where the sun don't shine mister. It just wasn't very pleasant. Speaking of where the sun doesn't shine, we're bringing you live coverage from Stoke City this evening as Chelsea, the Premier League champions, look to boost their top-four hopes. Yep, it's been that bad so far. Let's go.
4.34pmMourinho might be forgiven for being happy with his stadium ban. He didn't appeal the decision incase he won. Even he might not want to watch Chelsea these days. Who does? They've been nothing short of dreadful so far, losing SIX of their eleven games to sit 15th in the standings and 14 points behind co-leaders Manchester City and Arsenal. We know football is a funny old game and all, but I don't care if your father is Nostradamus and your mother is Mystic Meg - you didn't see this coming. Nobody did.
4.37pmEden Hazard has been more like Micky Hazard. Diego Costa has been about as lethal as Niall Horan with a pillow. Oscar has been more like Razzie. And Cesc Fabregas has been about as influential as the MiniDisc. None of them have turned up this season, with perhaps the exception of Willian who, with five goals, is Chelsea's top scorer. Other than him, nobody deserves credit and it's not surprising to see the Blues endure their worst start to a league campaign since 10 BC or something as a result.
4.39pmDespite being not in the stadium, Mourinho will select the team so let's see who the under-fire Portuguese has opted for, shall we? Yep, but first, take a mosey on down to Sports Mole HQ to see how the lads view this one.
4.49pmWe haven't said much about Stoke as of yet, because Chelsea's desolation takes pride of place unfortunately, but we'll start with the Potters and Mark Hughes names zero changes from the 0-0 draw at Newcastle last week. Jon Walters leads the line again, while Geoff Cameron returns from injury, but he can only make the bench. Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic provide wide support, with the diminutive Bojan operating at number 10 in front of anchors Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam.
4.52pmOn to the Blues now and Mourinho, from an unknown location, probably the team hotel, makes three changes from the 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev in Champions League duty on Wednesday. Gary Cahill drops out of defence for John Terry, who shares a back four with Kurt Zouma, Cesar Azpilicueta and summer signing Baba Rahman. Further forward, Cesc Fabregas and Oscar drop out for Eden Hazard and Pedro, who returns from injury, while Diego Costa spearheads the attack. And, of course, Asmir Begovic, who spent five years at the Britannia, starts between the sticks against his former teammates.
4.55pmLet's take a quick look at how Stoke have fared this season, shall we? Why not. It's been an up and down campaign for the Potters, whose three-match winning streak earlier in the term seems ages ago. Hughes and co had to wait seven games before picking up their first win - a 2-0 victory over Sunderland - and two more followed when they produced a couple of 1-0 wins at Swansea and Aston Villa. Since then, though, not much has happened.
4.57pmTwo weeks ago, City lost 2-0 at home to Watford to end their three-game winning streak, before Butland produced a man-of-the-match winning display in earning a 0-0 draw at St James's Park last time out. It's been a largely unconvincing few weeks for Stoke - and Chelsea, which we'll look at soon - and they could do with a response here. They might just get one too.
5.00pmThis isn't Chelsea's first trip to the Britannia Stadium this season. Nope. Mourinho and co arrived here last month for a fourth-round Capital One Cup clash. The Blues, the holders, lost 5-4 on penalties after the clash finished 1-1 in regulation, with Loic Remy snatching a last-minute equaliser to cancel out Walters's second-half opener. Stoke have previous and you wouldn't rule them out piling more pressure on Mourinho's lads this evening.
5.02pmRight, I've drank half a bottle of whiskey and I'm ready to delve into Chelsea's recent form, which reads like a case file from a multiple homicide. It's grissly, heinous and downright abhorrent. Sorry that's just Diego Costa's behaviour. You have to fancy he was in the thick of it at Westminster on Wednesday, don't you? Setting police cars on fire seems like his kind of fun. Anywho, Chelsea's form is bad. Just bad. Let's look at it.
5.05pmHaving already lost four Premier League encounters, they travelled to West Ham this time two weeks ago hoping to stem the tide. Did it work? Hmm, no, no it didn't. Mauro Zarate fired the hosts ahead, with Nemanja Matic then getting himself sent off on the stroke of half time. This is where Mourinho went a bit Mike Strutter and bombarded Jon Moss with insults. He then had to spend the second half in the stands, with lots of West Ham supporters.
5.07pmDespite their numerical disadvantage, Gary Cahill levelled up on 56 minutes, but Andy Carroll came off the bench to head home the winner with 11 minutes to play. It was then reported that defeat to Liverpool would result in Mourinho's dismissal. Did they lose then? We know they did - 3-1, to be precise - but the 52-year-old has survived. For now at least, but another loss here and Mr Abramovich may be tempted to blow the dust off that axe of his.
5.10pmIncidentally, Chelsea have since dropped to 16th in the table after Norwich - yes NORWICH - leapfrogged them in the table earlier this afternoon. Click HERE to see how everybody else fared in the 3pm kickoffs.
5.13pmPREDICTION! Seventeen minutes from kickoff - let's get a prediction wrong. This one isn't easy to predict. You'd sooner predict the actions of a drunk Diego Costa or Irish weather, but we'll try. Does Mourinho's absence have a positive or negative affect on the visitors? That's the question. Personally, I see them excelling without their manager in the dugout and I'm going for a 2-1 away win. There we go.
5.15pmLet's see what Twitter has been saying about this one.
5.17pmAs luck would have it Antra, it's only today!
5.26pmAnd here come both sets of players. Four minutes until showtime. Exicted? Me too.
1 minKICKOFF: And we're off at the Britannia. Fabulous atmosphere already. Chelsea get us underway.
1 minSHOT! Less than 60 seconds on the clock and Stoke have their tails up already. Arnautovic floats a decent cross into the box for the unmarked Shaqiri, whose acrobatic scissor kick flies over the bar. That won't do much for Chelsea's confidence.
4 minChelsea respond well and Hazard looks spritely early on. The ball falls to him from an impossible angle and he goes for goal, sending the ball high and wide when he had a number of teammates unmarked in the area. This one has the potential to be a cracker. Even if it's 0-0, it's obvious it's going to be an excellent 0-0.
6 minDiego Costa earns a talking to by referee Anthony Taylor for, well, being Diego Costa. He'll be making a nuisance of himself for the remaining 84 minutes or so you assume.
8 minThis is brilliant from Shaqiri, who shows his strength to wrestle the ball from Baba down the left-hand side of Chelsea's defence, but his delivery into the box is over the head of everybody.
10 minOUCH! Left-back Erik Pieters gets a boot in the face from Pedro. It looked totally innocent, but Pieters is down on the floor receiving treatment and Marc Wilson is warming up.
12 minPieters is back on his feet, but the blood is gushing from his nose. Off the field, Jose Mourinho chants echo around the Britannia, while a cardboard cutout of the man himself is also being passed around. Yep, he's definitely here in spirit.
14 minSHOT! Stoke have a corner now after Kouma cleared his lines from Shaqiri's excellent delivery from a free kick, but it comes to nothing and Chelsea counter at speed through Hazard, who finds Willian, but his cut back for Ramires is fired wide.
16 minIncidentally, Pieters is also back on the field as he continues despite a broken nose. Fair play. He had to really - if he went off injured with a broken nose that's Stoke's image forever ruined.
18 minSAVE! Brilliant save from Asmir Begovic on his return to the Britannia as he keeps out Johnson's left-footed effort from 12 yards. He's had nothing to do Begovic, which makes that save all the more impressive.
20 minCosta is down on the ground now following an aerial challenge from Wollscheid. I can't tell you what Stoke fans are chanting at him, but it rhymes with anchor if it's any help, which I think it might be.
22 minSAVE! It's opening up now a little more and Ramires's terrific dipping volley is tipped over by Butland, who was so impressive at St James' Park last weekend. Overall, Chelsea have been the better side, but Stoke have had their moments.
24 minStoke need to tow the line when it comes to conceding free kicks around the box tonight because Willian's delivery is second to none in world football at the moment. He drops a brilliant ball into the box now, but Kouma, who missed anyway, is ruled offside.
27 minThe Blues are turning the screw. Pedro does superbly to find Hazard on the right-hand side, with the Belgian then drilling another fine cross into the box for Costa, who can't quite reach it. It's encouraging for the Blues.
29 minCLOSE! Shaqiri is giving Baba an awful time. The Swiss executes a fine bit of skill to deceive his marker, before floating a fine cross at the back post but Walters can only head over. There's goals in this for Stoke.
35 minApologies for one or two technical difficulties - my hard drive actually slipped out - but we're back and we didn't miss much. Ten minutes until the break and Chelsea still toiling in the final third. Stoke defending well.
38 minShaqiri is a baller, isn't he? He's been comfortably Stoke's best player in this half and you wonder why they haven't tried to find him more often because he's dangerous every time he attacks Baba.
40 minFive minutes to go. Chelsea winning every statistic except for the one that matters.
41 minSAVE! Costa suddenly explodes into life, holding off a challenge from Shawcross before drilling a shot against the feet of Butland. Fine save and one that probably ensures parity at the break.
43 minTwo minutes to go and all quiet on the pitch. Off it, Mourinho's name echoes around the stadium again.
44 minYELLOW CARD: Whelan goes into the book for bringing down Hazard. No complaints from the Irishman.
45 minFOUR MINUTES ADDED ON! Plenty of time for one of these to edge ahead in timely fashion.
6.20pmWell, that's it in the first half. Chelsea were the better side, with Jack Butland pulling off some key saves to keep out Ramires and Diego Costa, and the absent Jose Mourinho, watching from the team hotel, will be delighted with what he has seen. But Stoke aren't out of it. Not by a long shot, and Asmir Begovic saved well from Glen Johnson in the first half. Xherdan Shaqiri could be key to a Stoke win after the Swiss winger dominated Baba Rahman for much of the opening 45 minutes, but still goalless.
45 minKICKOFF: And we're back underway as Stoke, who were dominated in the first half, kick us off once more. Chelsea comfortable in the first half but, as we mentioned, City did enough to suggest that they can certainly spring a few surprises.
47 minExcellent start to this half by Stoke, who were also excellent at the start of the previous half, but it petered out last time and probably will again.
49 minShaqiri seems to be popping up centrally quite often this half, having hugged the touchline during the opening 45 minutes. Bojan also looks promising so far after doing nothing of note earlier in the contest. Overall, encouraging signs by the hosts.
51 minPoor ball in from Azpilicueta here as Diego Costa can't connect with the long cross. No hard feelings from Costa, who will be spiking Azpilicueta's drink later with, well, probably spikes.
53 minGlen Johnson unlucky to concede a foul here as Pedro goes to ground a bit too easily to snuff out a Stoke counter-attack and the home fans are furious. Costa and Shawcross are having words now. It's becoming an increasingly hard game to officiate for Anthony Taylor.
54 minGOAL! Stoke City 1-0 Chelsea (Marko Arnautovic)
55 minWhere did that come from? Who knows. Who cares, if you're a Stoke fan. It's 1-0. Bojan finds Johnson's overlapping run as Baba switched off. The former Liverpool full-back pulled it back for Walters, who took a touch, but the ball looped up for Arnautovic, whose scissor kick nestled in the bottom corner. Mourinho's watching this from a hotel room an there's a good chance the television has just been sent through the window.
57 minBOOKING: What an idiotic booking for Shawcross, who goes out of his way to elbow Costa off the ball and he picks up a needless booking. He's walking a tightrope for over half-an-hour now.
59 minYep, it's getting a bit fiery now as Willian and Arnautovic become embroiled in a war of words now after Arnautovic nudged him in the back. I don't envy Anthony Taylor. This is a really tough game to referee. He's always looking behind his back, like the husband of a promiscuous wife.
61 minSHOT! Hazard, who's been really quiet in this half, shoots well over the bar with his weaker left foot. Very frustrating first hour for Chelsea.
64 minSHOT! Johnson could never resist the chants of "shoot", could he? He goes for goal here, from outside the box, and he drives well over. He's been excellent in this half, though.
65 minSome of Chelsea players are literally walking around now and the body language doesn't inspire confidence.
67 minCHANCE! Shaqiri continues to bully poor Rahman as the Swiss delivers another fine cross, but Arnautovic can only head over the bar. I can see Stoke netting a second.
69 minOFF THE POST! Is it Stoke's night? So far, it is. It's Pedro who bends against the post from outside the box. He was given far too much space there and Stoke must heed these warnings.
70 minBrilliant from Pieters as he shows Pedro who's boss. He's honestly been superb tonight, comfortably a strong candidate for man of the match.
71 minSUBS: Pedro and Baba Rahman make way for Fabregas and Oscar. Ramires goes to right-back, while Azpilicueta goes to left-back. For Stoke, Bojan is replaced by Geoff Cameron.
74 minThat double sub for Chelsea looks to be having a positive effect. The Blues have built up a head of steam but Stoke, to their credit, still defending very, very well. They've got about another 20 minutes to go.
77 minSHOT! Matic drives over the bar and Ramires is hauled off for Loic Remy now. He scored the equaliser when both sides met in the League Cup.
80 minWillian's delivery has been uncharacteristically poor as his free kick here fails to beat the first man. Chelsea still toiling, still trying, but fresh ideas at a premium even with Oscar and Fabregas on the field.
82 minCLOSE! Oh my word it should be 1-1 as Hazard, with time and space, steers his effort wide of Butland's goal. Will they get a better chance?
84 minCHANCE! Diouf lays it off to Walters, who thrashes high and wide from about 10 yards. It should definitely be 2-0. Chelsea on the attack now...
86 minCHANCE! Oh my word. We criticise players for diving these days, but Loic Remy is far too honest here. He is. He leaps over Butland and can't keep his balance and, despite the goal gaping, he fires over. Had he not jumped over Butland, it was a stonewall penalty and a Stoke red card. That was the defining moment in this game. Bar none.
89 minStoke have the ball right where they want it now, but now Chelsea launch an attack - one of their final attacks, with one minute of normal time to go.
7.26pmThat's it! Chelsea lose for the third successive Premier League game as Marko Arnautovic gifts Stoke a huge, and slightly fortunate, 1-0 win at the Britannia! Jose Mourinho will be delighted that he doesn't have to face the post-match interviews this evening. Anywho, that's us. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see you next time.