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April 5, 2014
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: L. Probert
• Attendance: 41168
Mohamed Salah 32'
F. Lampard 61'
I'm Alex Moretto, and I'd like to thank you all for joining me here today. Good bye.
FULL-TIME: CHELSEA 3-0 STOKE CITY. Thoroughly dominating performance from the hosts, who controlled the play from start to finish. Even more impressively, they keep their sixth straight clean sheet at Stamford Bridge in league play, and shift their focus to Tuesday night's clash with PSG.
90' + 2'
Finally, the full-time whistle blows and Chelsea move to the top of the table, with Liverpool still to play tomorrow.
90' + 1'
Loud applause for John Terry as he runs onto the ball, and keeps going down the sidelines before winning a throw. The crowd at Stamford Bridge seemed to really enjoy that.
Into the 90th now, and rather mercifully the referee only allowing for two added minutes. Chelsea passing it amongst themselves, winding down the clock.
David Luiz staring down the ball from a free kick, about 40 yards out. He wanted to have a go, but Hazard, realizing that fact, runs it and plays it short to Lampard. Luiz shrugs his shoulders, almost amused, as he wanted to have a try from long range.
The game is moving at a snail's pace as we approach the 90th minute. Chelsea trying to play keep away, while Stoke look dejected. There's no reason for them to feel that way, as they simply ran into a desperate Chelsea team who came in focused and determined to pick up three points.
STAT ATTACK: Chelsea are seven minutes away from keeping their sixth straight clean sheet at Stamford Bridge in league play. The last time they conceded at home was back on January 19, a 3-1 victory over Manchester United.
Incredible run from Hazard, who beats three defenders before his momentum takes him crashing into Pieters. Appeals for a penalty, but it's rightly not given by Lee Probert.
Substitutions for both teams as Ashley Cole (returning from injury) and Jon Walters (returning from suspension) are introduced with just over ten minutes to play.
Chelsea 3-0 up and still pressing. Mark Hughes will want to move on from this performance as quickly as possible. They've hardly been able to do anything right here today.
It's been a dominating Chelsea performance from start to finish here today, and it looks like three points for them as well. Smart substitutions from Jose Mourinho, as Hazard really injected another level of pace into the team.
Assist Mohamed Salah
GOOOOOOOAL! Spectacular! Incredible! Brilliant stuff from Willian. He takes a pass from Salah, takes on Shawcross, steps to his right and curls it past a helpless Begovic, just inside the far post. Wonderful finish from the Brazilian who has been Chelsea's best player here today.
Stoke win a corner and Adam plays it short for Arnautovic, but Lampard sees it develop and intervenes at the vital moment. The Potters are seriously lacking in quality once they break into the final third.
STAT ATTACK: Chelsea have won seven consecutive matches at home to Stoke in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in their last six.
Willian goes down after a heavy challenge, but a fair one at that, from Whelan. Adam picks up the ball and Stoke continue to play on. Lampard tackles Adam and Probert gives the foul, much to the dismay of the Chelsea players.
Stoke nearly pull one back! Arnautovic makes a great run and is picked out by Whelan. He's behind the defence, but can't come up with the first touch he needed and Cech is there to smother the lose ball.
Chelsea right back in attack, perhaps buoyed by their second goal. The ball is worked to Torres on the right, but his cross is blocked by Wilson and behind for a corner.
Penalty save Asmir Begovic
Missed Penalty Frank Lampard
Goal Frank Lampard
GOOOOOOAL! Begovic denies Lampard initially, but Chelsea's second all-time leading scorer follows up his miss and slots home after a fortunate bounce on the rebound.
PENALTY TO CHELSEA! Great link-up play between Hazard and Salah. Wilkinson takes down Salah inside the box and Chelsea have a chance to go 2-0 up.
Charlie Adam whips the ball into the box, and some miscommunication between Cech and Terry sees neither get to the cross. Thankfully, for Chelsea's sake, no one is there to meet it at the far post and it rolls behind for a goal kick, allowing the Blues to bring on Eden Hazard.
Chelsea seem to be lacking in urgency at the moment. The game is being played in large part in midfield. But this time it's Stoke who seem to be pressing forward. Pieters picks up the ball and charges at the defence, forcing Lampard into a challenge and winning a free kick in a dangerous position, about 25 yards out to the left of the goal.
The Potters look much more determined in this second half. It's not translating into possession or chances just yet, but Chelsea have much less time on the ball at the moment.
Stoke concede another free kick now, and Lampard stands over to take. He works a quick give and go before sending it into the box. Cahill heads behind and the pressure is relieved.
Mourinho looks on, unimpressed with referee Lee Probert. He feels Chelsea should have had two penalties in the first half, which is a bit ambitious, and is shocked to see Whelan get out of that last challenge without a booking.
Stoke keeping possession well to start the half, but they're forced to put it out of play with Schurrle down clutching his right foot.
Chelsea get the second half underway, and face a different looking Stoke side who brought on Charlie Adam and Andy Wilkinson at half-time. Adam will slide into a more attacking role, pushing N'Zonzi back beside Whelan in what will look more like a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Jose Mourinho will likely try and avoid dipping too far into his bench with PSG looming on Tuesday. Demba Ba could be an option to replace the ineffective Fernando Torres. Meanwhile, Stoke have some attacking options on their bench in Jonathan Walters and John Guidetti.
STAT ATTACK: Stoke have gained 15 points this season from a losing position - the most in the Premier League.
HALF-TIME: CHELSEA 1-0 STOKE CITY. After a horrible week for the Blues, they have come out and performed admirably in the first half, with the hopes of getting their title hopes back on track. Salah's goal puts them atop the table for the time being, but there's plenty more football to be played here today.
45' + 2'
The first half comes to an end, and after a disjointed start from the hosts, they have really settled in and put forth a dominating performance after 45 minutes.
45' + 1'
A long ball forward by Chelsea is misplayed by Torres, but falls to the feet of Lampard. He hits it first time, but Whelan dives across to block the shot.
Two minutes of added time indicated by the assistant referee.
Stoke win a throw just inside the Chelsea half, and for the first time in a while the cameraman has to turn to his right. They can't string together more than a couple of passes, and end up playing it all the way back to Begovic. Suffocating stuff from Chelsea in midfield.
Just as I say that, Chelsea add a second. Ivanovic gets on the end of a cross and beats Begovic with his header. The celebration comes to a halt, however, as the linesman judges him to be offside. It was the right call, but only by a hair.
Stoke's inability to break out of their own half has to be worrying for Mark Hughes. The Potters need to play out the final five minutes without going two behind, and regroup at the break.
STAT ATTACK: Chelsea have won four consecutive Premier League home matches by a combined score of 14-0.
The majority of Chelsea's chances are coming as a result of sloppy play and needless giveaways by Stoke. The Blues haven't been able to build from the back with much success thus far, but are doing an excellent job of pressuring the ball and forcing Stoke into making mistakes.
SALAH! Again the Egyptian beats Pieters with an excellent run. He takes the through ball from Willian, but his second touch lets him down as it runs too far and Begovic races out to collect.
Assist Nemanja Matić
Goal Mohamed Salah
GOOOOOOOOAL! Salah has Chelsea back to the top of the table for the time being! Matic does well to break into the box and cut it back for the ex-Basel player, who hits it first time with power and beats Begovic for the opening goal.
Torres takes a nice pass from Schurrle, but is simply looking for the slightest bit of contact to try and win a penalty. He goes to ground, but keeps working as he passes off for Azpilicueta, who sends a poor ball out of play.
Lampard does really well to win a corner, swarmed by defenders without an option to pass it off. Nothing comes of it, however, as it's cleared to the defenders and eventually behind for a goal kick.
That just goes to show how Torres is lacking in confidence at the moment. He should have taken that first time, and slotted it into the back of the net, but he isn't doing himself any favours. Mourino looks on in disbelief at the impotence of his 50 million pound striker.
TORRES! What is Stoke doing! Odemwingie with another giveaway in his own half. It's sent into the box and Pieters, trying to pass back to his goalie, chests it directly into the path of Torres, but the Spaniard can't beat Begovic!
Stoke are doing a nice job of clogging the midfield, and forcing Chelsea to work for their passes. There seems to be space available along the flanks, but they seem to have their hearts set on building up the middle.
Nice save by Begovic! Willian gets it outside the box, but is surrounded by defenders. He tries to curl a shot towards the far post. It takes a deflection and Begovic dives to his left to tip it behind for a corner.
STAT ATTACK: The Potters are in search of a fourth consecutive Premier League win, something they haven’t done since December of 2011.
Stoke managing some nice possession of their own. Whelan gets it on the right and tries to pick out Crouch with a cross, but Cahill gets there to head behind and clear the danger. The ensuing corner comes to nothing, and Chelsea regain possession.
Odemwingie breaks in from the right hand side in space, but stops his run and takes a shot from 30 yards out. He hits the target, but it's a feeble attempt that Cech collects easily.
They may be lacking in quality at the moment, but Chelsea are putting plenty of pressure on the Stoke defence. Salah gets their first shot on target after a nice move, but doesn't trouble Begovic. Seconds later they win a corner, and it's met by Ivanovic. He can't make clean contact with the ball, however, as he sends it wide.
Odemwingie gives the ball away five yards outside his penalty area. It falls for Torres who has a clear look at goal but misses the target by a few feet! He has to do better and at least test Begovic from that range.
Jose Mourinho will be frustrated with this start from Chelsea. The Blues win a free kick from 35 yards out and send bodies into the box. Ivanovic opts to go for goal, and sends his effort well high and wide. Wasteful from the right-back.
Sloppy passing in midfield from Chelsea. Torres gets the ball just before the half-way line and gives it away. It falls for Lampard whose pass is well behind Ivanovic. The Serbian defender tracks back to get the ball and passes it straight to the opposition trying to pick out Willian.
Willian wins the ball in midfield and sends a ball for Torres to chase. The Spaniard will be eager to prove his worth to Jose Mourinho after the manager's comments in midweek. This time the two centre-backs recover well and guide the ball into the waiting arms of Begovic.
N'Zonzi with a hard tackle on Willian as he concedes an early free kick. Lampard lofts it into the box, but it's cleared away by the towering Ryan Shawcross and Stoke regain possession.
Lee Probert blows his whistle and Stoke get us underway! The visitors, moving left to right, wearing their red and white striped shirts, with Chelsea sporting their classic royal blue kits.
The players are setting up and we're about to get started at Stamford Bridge. It's a must win for Chelsea in the scope of the title race, especially after Manchester City's victory earlier today.
STAT ATTACK: Stoke's 3-2 victory over Chelsea in this season's reverse fixture was their first win over the Blues in the Premier League era, with the last one before that coming in April 1975 – it also ended Chelsea's 14-match unbeaten run against the Potters (11W, 3D).
Jonathan Walters returns to the bench after serving his three match ban, while Oussama Assaidi remains out with a knee injury.
STOKE SUBS: Muniesa, Adam, Walters, Guidetti, Etherington, Wilkinson, Sorensen.
STOKE CITY XI (4-5-1): Begovic; Cameron, Wilson, Shawcross, Pieters; Odemwingie, Whelan, Palacios, N'Zonzi, Arnautovic; Crouch.
Jose Mourinho has opted to rest a few of his key players, most noteably Eden Hazard and Oscar, ahead of Tuesday's massive Champions League quarter-final second leg against PSG. Salah and Willian slot back into the starting XI, and Torres starts up front with Eto'o nursing a hamstring injury.
CHELSEA SUBS: Cole, Luiz, Hazard, Oscar, Ba, Schwarzer, Kalas.
CHELSEA XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Lampard, Matic; Salah, Willian, Schurrle; Torres.
The teams have been announced, so let us have ourselves a look at today's starting line-ups:
Stoke have all but guaranteed their safety with a great run of form that has seen them win four of their last five matches. In fact, the Potters have climbed into the top half of the table thanks to their recent form, putting 14 points between them and the bottom three with just six games remaining. There isn't a whole lot to play for at this point in the season in terms of their placing in the table, but you can bet the Potters would like to play the role of spoiler here today.
It is now "impossible" for Chelsea to win the title this season, at least according to manager Jose Mourinho, who had that to say following the Blues 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace last weekend. Chelsea's loss, coupled with a Livepool win, dropped them out of first place and just two points ahead of Manchester City, who have also played two fewer games. While it is far from impossible, the Blues title expectations did suffer a serious blow last week – as did their Champions League hopes following a 3-1 defeat to PSG on Wednesday. Chelsea come into today's match reeling, in desperate need of a win to get them back on track.
Good afternoon Premiership fans around the world, and welcome to today's match between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge, an important one as the title race continues to heat up. I'm Alex Moretto and I'll be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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