A rampaging Chelsea returned to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday as they coasted to a 4-0 win over Stoke City at Bet365 Stadium
Chelsea consolidated their position in the Top 4, producing a thoroughly dominating performance as they routed Stoke City 4-0 at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday. The champions took just two minutes to get on the scoresheet as Alvaro Morata calmly converted from Cesar Azpilicueta’s long pass.
The game settled thereafter as chances came few and far between, but the Blues showed their opportunistic side at the half-hour mark as Pedro latched on Darren Fletcher’s mistake to drill the ball past Jack Butland from outside the box.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 23, 2017
The next two shots on target, both from the boot of Morata, yielded goals once again. Chelsea’s record signing first converted from a wonderful solo effort as ran from the halfway line before scoring from an acute angle. Morata then completed his hat-trick with a simple close range finish
The Spaniard is now the joint top scorer in the Premier League alongside Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero, with six goals from as many games as Chelsea sit three points adrift of the Manchester clubs. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Antonio Conte’s men after an emphatic performance.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
A quiet night for the Chelsea number one who was barely bothered by the home side. Courtois negotiated a couple of Stoke chances with ease and commanded his own area well bar one moment where he made a meal out of a simple aerial ball. Nevertheless, the Belgian racks up yet another clean sheet.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 9/10
Cesar Azpilicueta’s game by numbers vs. Stoke:
100% tackles won
100% aerial duels
Captain fantastic. pic.twitter.com/ETlNTUMCgK
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 23, 2017
Was the number one contender for the man of the match award if not for Morata’s hat-trick, Azpilicueta was solid as ever. Donning the captain’s armband, the Spaniard controlled his back-line superbly while being a rock in front of every attacking pursuit by Stoke.
Shifted towards the wing-back slot after Gary Cahill was brought in, he continued remaining the reliable defender for the Blues. But, his contributions are just not limited to his defensive solidity as Azpilicueta also provided two assists to Morata with two inch-perfect balls in a complete all round performance.
Andreas Christensen: 8/10
Vindicated Chelsea fans’ growing calls for a more regular inclusion, Christensen filled David Luiz’s void at the heart of defence with a commanding performance. Calm on the ball and composed off it, Conte may just start persisting with the Danish defender a whole lot more after Saturday.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
— Antonio Rüdiger (@ToniRuediger) September 23, 2017
Another player who has not yet managed to carve out a regular place for himself, Rudiger turned in an impressive performance as he started in place of club captain Gary Cahill. In fact, he grew into the game just as Stoke started looking more threatening, thereby neutralising whatever danger they may have posed.
Rudiger looks like he’s adapting quickly to the challenges in England, often looking unperturbed against the toughest of opposition.
Victor Moses: 7/10
A typically industrious performance by the Nigerian, who looked a lot more assured in defence. His attacking output might not have been the best, but he, too, grew into the game as it progressed, coming close to finding the back of the net. Conte surely has a pleasant problem at his hands with the reliable Davide Zappacosta waiting in the wings.
N’Golo Kante: 8/10
A solid, and effective performance by the Frenchman just like we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing from him. Stopped Stoke attackers in their tracks on several occasions while spraying the ball forward efficiently, Kante was typically commanding, and looked to be improving his understanding with Bakayoko.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 7/10
Speaking of Bakayoko, the Frenchman was a picture of confidence all throughout the game. In fact, it was Bakayoko who initiated the move that ended with Morata’s opener. Additionally, he rotated the ball well and worked smartly alongside Kante, although his decision making could do with some work.
All in all though, the early signs from Bakayoko are positive as he looks to be adapting well to his new surroundings.
Marcos Alonso: 4/10
Hughes says referee allowed Chelsea to disrupt Stoke’s momentum. Also thinks Alonso should have been sent off #cfc
— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) September 23, 2017
— FPL (@OfficialFPL) September 23, 2017
It isn’t hard to argue that Marcos Alonso has seen better days. On a afternoon when Chelsea were so dominant for large parts of the match, the Spaniard endured a forgetful performance as he was largely a peripheral figure, looking weak defensively while having no impact whatsoever going forward.
The ten minutes preceding his substitution had Chelsea fans biting their fingernails as he was first guilty of play acting that could have earned him a booking for simulation. Alonso then finally got a yellow for a rash tackle on Joe Allen and could have been sent off for another reckless challenge before Conte saw the danger and took him off.
Not a spectacular performance by any means, but Pedro was effective with his tenacity. Although he did filter in and out of the game throughout his stint on the pitch, the Spaniard made no mistake in pouncing on Darren Fletcher’s howler, picking up the ball and converting from distance to cap off a solid outing.
Another player who would like to forget his performance on the afternoon quickly. Willian started the game well, but soon became a liability in attack no thanks to poor dribbling and wasteful passing that amounted to nothing. Chelsea looked a far more dangerous proposition when Eden Hazard replaced him in the second half.
With Hazard slowly returning to full fitness, performances like Saturday’s will do Willian no favour as he could soon find himself playing second fiddle to the Belgian and Pedro, like last season.
Alvaro Morata: 10/10
🔵 Games: 6
⚽ Goals: 6
🎯 Assists: 2
What a signing! pic.twitter.com/Mldb25kgxA
— Dugout (@Dugout) September 23, 2017
In the wake of Diego Costa’s confirmed departure from Chelsea, finally, Morata showed that the West Londoners are unlikely to miss the new Atletico Madrid man anytime soon. In fact, Morata showed all the characteristics that Conte needs from his striker, with brilliant awareness, smart movement, pacy outlet and deft touch.
All in all, it was a perfect and classy outing for the Spanish striker, who has taken no time to gel with his new teammates. As the season progresses, he could truly become a force to be reckoned with and give Zinedine Zidane a few timely reminders of his abilities.