In a match Chelsea defense was horribly exposed, Stock City managed by former Blues’ player Mark Hughes beat Jose Mourinho’s men 3-2 in Brittania Stadium. Despite Andre Schurrle scoring two wonderful strikes in each half, Stock City capitalized on a horrendous display from the back line of the opposing team to get a deserved win in some regards. We will hear the reasoning of the defeat from Jose’s post match comments but it’s the team’s defensive errors that cost us an opportunity to close in on the high flying gunners leading currently with 4 points clear with a game to play on Sunday.
Team starting 11s:
Stock City (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross (c), Wilson, Muniesa; Whelan (Palacios 85), Nzonzi; Walters (Assaidi 82), Adam (Ireland 17), Arnautovic; Crouch.
Chelsea FC (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Ramires, Mikel (Lampard 69); Schurrle (Eto’o 69), Mata, Hazard; Torres (Ba 58).
The game started with the Blues dominating possession and looking dangerous while Stock City were simply trying to close down and not give away spaces in the back. Andre Schurrle started the game in a fantastic fashion by winning corners and looking livelier than any of our strikers. Then in just nine minutes the Blues had taken the lead.
Mikel picked the ball up just inside the Stoke half and played the ball forward into the feet of Schurrle, who took a touch before weaving in and out of Ryan Shawcross and firing a brilliant left-footed strike into the bottom corner.
The visitors looked in control for the vast part of the first half, during which Charlie Adam had to be replaced by Stephen Ireland due to injury, but went into the break level due to a poor piece of goalkeeping from Petr Cech. Still it was the Blues who were having much possession and Stock were trying to break the deadlock from scary counter attacks through the paces of Stephen Ireland, Walters and Arnautovic.
And in the 41st minute, Chelsea biggest worry of the past week had started yet again in the penalty box from a set piece. Sunderland had capitalized on three dead balls after a Chelsea clearance in the box to score in the midweek but luckily we didn’t suffer as a result by hitting four. In this after noon though, It was Peter Crouch who got a chance with his left foot and hit it nicely and low to equalize.
Cech made a mistake by not clearing or handling the ball nor staying in goal and stop the shot.
The second half was just five minutes old when Stoke forged ahead. Walters pushed over Cesar Azpilicueta on the right, and Chelsea wanted a foul. But the Republic of Ireland international escaped down the wing and found Ireland who curled a superb shot towards goal and saw the ball bounce in off the base of the post.
Three minutes later, Chelsea restored parity. Juan Mata’s free-kick came off Crouch’s thigh and the ball was heading out of the area – only for Schurrle to send it back with a crashing left-foot volley that flew in for his third goal of the season.
Fired up after Schurrle’s brilliant equalizer, the Blues continued to dominate and push forward further more. And the German was so close to getting his hat trick if not for the ball hitting the top of the cross bar.
Our first substitution of the afternoon saw Ba replace Torres just before the hour, but it was Stoke who should have restored their lead nine minutes later when Ireland passed up a glorious opportunity, firing inches over the bar from a Crouch lay-off. Then, Frank Lampard came on for Mikel while Eto’o replaced Schurrle in a switch that maybe was a mistake by Jose as the Cameroonian looked very much ineffective in the wing while Ba was neither taking his chances in the box to score nor link up with his team mates with quick touches.
Chelsea fire-power upfront was surely reduced by those two horrible tactical switches and Stock capitalized in the stoppage time through super-sub Oussama Assaidi. The Moroccan had came on late on to replace the cautioned Jonathan Walters. He collected the ball in the left channel from Ireland’s pass, before cutting infield behind Branislav Ivanovic and then firing in an excellent right-foot shot to put Stoke ahead once more.
Despite 5 mins being added, there was no turning back for Jose’s men despite some good efforts late on from the Blues. Follow on Twitter (@FahmiCFC) – What We Learned soon to come!