Chelsea are currently drawing 0-0 with Stoke City after an entertaining first half in which they have been the better side.
The home side made the first in road into the opponent’s half seconds into te game, brought about by a mistake on the right from Azpilicueta that Shaqiri was unable to make the most of in the penalty box.
Chelsea responded with a passing move between the attacking quartet that led to an attempt from Hazard- the Belgian was unable to fashion a shot on target from a tight angle. Despite the wasted foray into the Stoke City box it was a good sign that the creative players were beginning to play in the way that brought such success last season.
The game hit an interval shortly before the tenth minute when Pedro sought to bring down a high ball and caught Pieters in the face as the Stoke defender tried to head the ball clear.
The Blues missed a great chance to take the play shortly after play resumed as they counter attacked from a Stoke free-kick that had been won by Shaqiri- the home side’s most dangerous player early on. Hazard collected the clearance from Baba and ran into the Stoke half and gave it to Willian, who in turn put in Ramires who couldn’t quite get his shot on target.
Former Stoke ‘keeper Asmir Begovic was forced into a very good save to his right when former Chelsea man Glen Johnson collected the ball in the middle from Shaqiri. Ramires then had another attempt on goal, this one on target, when he half volleyed the ball at goal and forced Butlan to tip the ball over the bar after 21 minutes as Chelsea showed more and more signs that their rotten recent form was behind them, following on from Wednesday’s improved performance against Dynamo Kiev.
Costa was inches from making contact with a superb ball from Hazard on the left on 26 minutes as they appeared to be getting closer to opening the scoring. Stoke themselves almost did so seconds later when Shaqiri tricked Baba and played a good ball into the box that Walters couldn’t direct towards the goal.
After that, Chelsea’s hold over the first half only strengthened. A series of corners led to nothing- Hazard had a shot from the edge of the box that was blocked, and Costa had shot well saved by Butland as the break drew nearer.
A final well worked passing move across the edge of the box came to nothing but Chelsea should be greatly encouraged by their first half performance. There have been moments when a better final ball would have resulted in a goal, and the goal will come if they keep going. For their part, Stoke have shown signs of scoring but appear reliant on Shaqiri on the right- the Swiss having the better of Chelsea’s left back Baba.
STOKE CITY –Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Adam, Whelan; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Walters
Substitutes: Haugaard, Wilson, Cameron, Ireland, Afellay, Crouch, Diouf.
Manager: Mark Hughes
CHELSEA –Begovic; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Terry (c), Baba; Ramires, Matic; Willian, Hazard, Pedro; Diego Costa
Substitutes: Amelia, Cahill, Mikel, Fabregas, Oscar, Kenedy, Remy
Manager: José Mourinho
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Venue: Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, UK