Match Analysis: Stoke City 1-0 Chelsea

Match Analysis: Stoke City 1-0 Chelsea
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Sports Mole reviews the action from the Britannia as Jose Mourinho-less Chelsea lose 1-0 at Stoke for their seventh Premier League defeat.

Chelsea slumped to their seventh Premier League defeat of the season as the champions went down 1-0 at Stoke City tonight

Without manager Jose Mourinho in the dugout, the Blues looked a better side compared to their recent defeats, but Marko Arnautovic's 54th-minute winner undermined their progress.

Here, Sports Mole analyses how the Potters rode their luck to snatch all three points at the Britannia Stadium.

Match statistics

Shots: 8
On target: 2
Possession: 37%
Corners: 1
Fouls: 13

Shots: 19
On target: 4
Possession: 63%
Corners: 9
Fouls: 10

Was the result fair?

Chelsea lost their six previous Premier League outings because they deserved to. Whether it was being thumped 3-0 at Manchester City, or simply not doing enough to beat Southampton or Liverpool, the performance reflected the outcome. Not this time. This time, they deserved at least a point and the statistics prove that. Taking nothing away from Stoke, who were excellent at the back and clinical when they needed to be, but even Mark Hughes will not deny that a draw would have been the fair result.

Stoke City's performance

Hughes's side got away with one tonight and the Stoke boss will know it. They were comprehensively outplayed in the first half, with goalkeeper Jack Butland - their saviour at Newcastle United last week - forced to assume a similar role here as he kept out Ramires and Diego Costa. At the other end, Glen Johnson forced Asmir Begovic into a tidy one-handed save, but it was uninspiring stuff from City who, like Chelsea, had failed to win any of their previous two.

It was a different story after the break. Bojan, anonymous in the previous half, slowly but surely grew into the encounter, while Xherdan Shaqiri continued his assault on young left-back Baba Rahman. It was no surprise to see Stoke's opener come down the right-hand side. Rahman went to sleep as Johnson crept in behind before pulling back for Shaqiri, who inexplicably took a touch instead of shooting first time and the chance looked gone. However, the ball looped up kindly for Arnautovic, whose scissor kick nestled in the bottom corner.

From there, lady luck had as much of a hand in defending their lead as Stoke's back four did, with Pedro striking the post while Eden Hazard and Loic Remy both missed good chances late on. Overall, though, the hosts were superb at the back, with Ryan Shawcross and Philipp Wollscheid bullying the bully in the form of Costa. There was a huge element of luck, but Hughes, nor any Stoke fan, will not care.

Chelsea's performance

Even Mourinho could be forgiven for being secretly happy with his one-match stadium ban. So far this season, his team have barely been worth watching. Despite his physical absence, the Portuguese was certainly at the Britannia in spirit as hundreds of visiting fans sported Mourinho masks as a show of support for the under-fire manager. With a cardboard cutout of the man himself also doing the rounds in the stands, there was certainly a jovial atmosphere off the field. On it, there was plenty to smile about too.

The Blues were excellent in a first half in which Hazard finally looked like the man who scooped double Player of the Year awards last season. He was at the heart of everything, and he set up Costa on 41 minutes, but the Spain striker could not steer his effort past Butland, who earlier denied Ramires's dipping volley.

It was goalless at the break, but it was a hugely encouraging first half for the visitors. Mourinho, watching from the team hotel, would have been proud of his troops. However, he had an excuse to raid the mini bar on 54 minutes when Chelsea, totally in control, somehow fell behind. Left-back Rahman, who had been tormented by Shaqiri in the first half, switched off as Johnson ran in behind him en route to setting up Arnautovic.

The setback stunned Chelsea, who initially looked rather apathetic in the face of another defeat, but the quiet Pedro burst into life on 68 minutes by curling against the post. With eight minutes remaining, Hazard then steered a gilt-edged chance wide, before second-half substitute Remy hurdled the committed Butland inside the area and drilled over. Had he gone down, or simply not jumped over the Stoke keeper, it was a stonewall penalty. He was too honest in a time when Chelsea need results by any means necessary.

Mourinho's name continued to ring out among the away fans toward the end, but there was markedly fewer participants compared to the pre-match atmosphere. The masks were also off, but the players continue to don theirs on a night when the champions slumped to a seventh Premier League defeat. No team has ever won the title after losing so many games, and Chelsea - 14 points behind Manchester City and Arsenal, who both have a game in hand - will not be the exception.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Xherdan Shaqiri: Technically, he got the assist for Stoke's opener, but that was his least impressive moment on a night where he tormented Rahman on City's right wing and delivered a number of fine deliveries. Despite his height - standing at 5'7 - the Switzerland international also gave as good as he got in the physical stakes. Excellent overall.

Biggest gaffe

Rahman endured a torrid evening, but his most costly error came when he switched off as Johnson ran in behind him in the build-up to City's winner. It was a baptism of fire for the left-back, who may have to wait a while before earning another Premier League start.

Referee performance

To his credit, Anthony Taylor was superb in a game that increasingly grew more difficult to officiate. Like the husband of a promiscuous woman, Taylor was forced to constantly check what was going on behind his back, with Costa, as he so often does, becoming embroiled in a physical and verbal battle with Shawcross and Wollscheid. On another day, with another referee, at least one red card might have been brandished, but Taylor kept a lid on things.

What's next?

Stoke City: Hughes and co travel to Southampton on November 21 following the international break.

Chelsea: Also returning on Saturday week, the Blues host Norwich City at Stamford Bridge.

Diego Costa of Chelsea and Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City argue during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Britannia Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Stoke on Trent, England.
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