Chelsea made it three wins from three with Drogba and Malouda adding to their impressive early tallies with another goal each. Stoke fans failed to take their whole allocation, with plenty of empty seats in their end, at fifty quid a pop and getting drubbed 7-0 at the end of last season you can’t really blame them.
The starting line up was almost the same as the ones who beat Wigan 6-0 last week, with the only exception being Ivanovic not recovering from last weeks injury, so Paulo Ferrara – The man who replaced him – got the nod in the right back slot. The rest of the back line wrote itself, Terry and Alex were centre backs and Ashley Cole left back. Mikel, Essien, Lamps and Malouda made up the midfield, with Drogba and Anelka up front.
Robert Huth was playing for Stoke, and the visitors enjoyed some early possession but were unable to produce any clear cut chances. Chelsea’s best early chance fell to Ashley Cole, who latched onto Mikel’s through ball, but his shot towards the far post unfortunately went wide and couldn’t cap off a great team move. Stoke weren’t without their chances, Dean Whitehead tested Cech from the edge of the box, before Jonathon Walters lob hit the top of the net.
The Blues kept up the pressure and a few minutes later were awarded a penalty when Ryan Shawcross fouled Florent Malouda in the box. Lamps stepped up for the penalty but Sorenson guessed the right way and ensured the scores remained goalless.
Drogba thundered a powerful free kick on target but Sorenson managed to palm the shot away, the day looked like it may have become frustrating, until just after the half hour mark JT powered through the middle of the pitch before feeding a brilliantly timed ball between the Stoke defence, Malouda was first to reach the ball, his first time right footed effort was lifted around the outrushing keeper to make it one nil.
Not prepared to stop there, the Blues immediately continued pressing for a second before half time. Within minutes of going one up Ashley Cole unexpectedly hit a spectacular acrobatic volley which unluckily hit the bar, had it gone in, the goal would have been an early contender for goal of the season.
Without many other chances in the half, the only other significant news was both Whitehead and Etherington getting their names in the ref’s book.
After the interview Drogba’s header from about the penalty spot was right at the keeper. The second half seemed a little lacklustre until Whelen – who had replaced Whitehead – saw a cracking longer ranger come back off the bar, the shot had Cech well beaten. Lamp’s came off for Kalou in the 71st minute, it was later revealed that he had a groin injury that will keep him out of England’s Euro qualifiers.
With a quarter of an hour left on a clock, Drogba looked to have overhit a ball to Anelka, but the Frenchman pursued it and beat Sorenson to the ball just inside the box, Sorenson had already committed and brought Nico down, giving us our second penalty of the match. Sorenson dived the same way as the first penalty, Drogba hit it the other side, making it two nil.
Stoke’s only real chance of note had us in a bit of a mess at the back, but a sliding Alex challenge ensured Stoke didn’t get a shot away, preventing any chance of us conceding for the first time in the league. Sturridge came on for Anelka in the 80th minute, and four minutes later Ramires made his debut, replacing Michael Essien.
The match ended two nil, it was a deserved victory for us. We ended having six shots on target, Stoke had three. Florent Malouda now has now had four shots on goal this season, four on target, and four goals. Drogba also has four goals, making them the leagues joint top goalscorers alongside Walcott and Andy Carroll.
Alex and JT were soild at the back, Ashley Cole made some great runs and Essien helped keep things ticking in the middle, Anelka sat deep a lot but put a good shift in, Drogba tested the keeper on a number of occasions, having half our shots on target. It’s hard to pick a Man Of The Match from that.
It was revealed after the match that JT will be joining Lampard on the sidelines for England’s two qualifiers.