Unstoppable! Costa & Co. keep their cool at Stoke as Chelsea kill off the title race

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The Potters tried to rile up the Blues but were ultimately beaten on their own patch by a team that looks nailed on to become champions


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Diego Costa was left battered and bruised at the Britannia Stadium but the Chelsea striker had still managed to help his side kill off the title race with a massive win over Stoke.

Tottenham and Manchester City players must watch Chelsea play brilliantly week-in, week-out and continually extinguish the hopes and dreams of their rivals by racking up victory after victory.

No matter what gets thrown at the them, Antonio Conte's men always have an answer and this latest victory was made all the more impressive by the fact that the Blues managed to remain resilient and composed against an opponent that once again tried to knock them out of their stride by any means necessary.

Chelsea battle past Stoke

After Manchester United tried it, Stoke City tried it, but kicking Chelsea just doesn't work. Eden Hazard may missed the trip to the midlands through injury, after being targeted by United in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, but Chelsea still came out on top.

That was in spite of the fact that Stoke did an effective job of winding up Costa.

In front of a crowd baying for blood, and faced with a group of players willing to resort to provocation and rough-house tactics to get a result, the Spain striker was more agitated than we have seen him for many months.

Chelsea Stoke

Bruno Martins Indi followed Costa around the pitch for 90 minutes, helping Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron ensure that the Chelsea was systematically fouled for the duration of the game.

So, while Costa is a cooler beast this season than in previous years, he looked like his old combustible self at times, as Stoke successfully got under his skin in the first half.

However, credit to Conte, the Chelsea boss got in his star forward's ear at half-time and managed to calm down his leading goalscorer, who was looking likely to either be sent off or taken off.

Conte may have tamed his temperamental striker once and for all and spoke about him after the game.

"I think that the it is normal to try to make a player angry and then to [make them] react and by commiting another foul," He said after the match. "It's normal this. I think the great news is that Diego is showing to be a great player, also in this aspect.

"I know in the past sometimes he has received two yellow cards and he has not finished the game, but this season, honestly, I have to be pleased for him and for his behaviour."

With Hazard out, it was a rare moment of hardship for Conte, who has had to make few changes this season in his line-up. However, he looked to Willian and Pedro in the Belgian's absence and the pair stepped up.

Wenger: I've decided my future

Willian provided the opening goal for Chelsea, with a quick-witted free-kick surprising Lee Grant at his near post. Chelsea carved out numerous chances to extend their lead thereafter and should have had the game wrapped up before series of controversial calls offered Stoke a route back into the game.

Indeed, the decision to penalise Gary Cahill for a push on Jonathan Walters seemed extremely harsh but it was Chelsea's stand-in skipper who had the last laugh, after sweeping home a loose ball in the dying minutes to earn the visitors a hugely significant win.

Chelsea Stoke

Chelsea now lead the league by 13 points, with 10 games remaining. Their next outing, a home clash versus Crystal Palace, should be a straightforward assignment and though they then face Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has already all but thrown in the towel in the title race.

The Catalan has already admitted that Chelsea “are almost unstoppable”. After Saturday’s hard-fought win at Stoke, we can now remove the word “almost”.

The only question is whether anyone can stop the Blues from pulling off a league-and-cup double.

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