Chelsea are drawing 0-0 at half-time of their League Cup tie at Stoke City.
Chelsea started on the fornt foot and almost took the lead in the first few minutes as Costa forced a smart save from Butland in the Stoke goal when he attempted a back hell finish from Oscar’s right sided cross.
The travelling Chelsea fans made their support for their team’s under pressure manager early on as Jose Mourinho’s name rang out from the away end of Britania Stadium. They saw their team miss another chance as Costa ran in from the left and his cut back was almost turned into his own goal by Wollschied, and then again when Oscar had a right foot shot tipped over the bar.
Chelsea’s play generally was much better than it has been in previous weeks- Hazard, Costa and Oscar, reintroduced into the team at the expense of Fabregas, linking up brilliantly on a number of occasions. A bad foul on Zouma did not bring a card for Diouf when it should have done, and Chelsea missed the best chance of the game by far just before the half hour when Ramires was put through by Mikel and put the ball into the side netting when he had taken it round Butland.
An injury to Costa meant the Spain striker was taken off after 32 minutes to be replaced by Remy, something sure to be of the utmost concern to Jose Mouirnho.
For the home side’s part, their best opening came ten minutes before the break when Walters received the ball in the middle of the area and couldn’t finish beyond ex-Stoke ‘keeper Asmir Begovic in the Chelsea goal. Stoke have mainly been limited to shots from distance, but that moment, specifically the way Stoke moved through the Chelsea central defence with relative ease.
It has been the away side, however, that has largely been in control so far. Hazard had a shot pushed over and Chelsea found the net from the subsequent set piece only for the linesman’s flag to intervene when Terry finished cleverly past Butland from an offside position.
Despite the lack of goals it has been a much better showing from Chelsea this evening. They have been by far the better side and could have at east one goal to their name by now. They will have to continue with the initiative in the second half and take advantage soon if their bid to retain the League Cup doesn’t go the same way as the Premiership has so far.
CHELSEA – Asmir Begovic; Kurt Zouma, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Baba Rahman; Ramires, John Obi Mikel, Willian, Oscar, Eden Hazard; Diego Costa (Remy, 32)
Substitutes: Marco Amelia, Papy Djilobodji, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Bertrand Traore, Kenedy, Loic Remy
Manager: José Mourinho
STOKE CITY – Jack Butland; Phil Bardsley, Ryan Shawcross, Philipp Wollscheid, Marc Muniesa; Glenn Whelan, Charlie Adam, Mame Biram Diouf, Ibrahim Affelay, Marco Arnautovic; Jonathan Walters
Substitutes: Shay Given, Wilson, Steve Sidwell, Stephen Ireland, Xherdan Shaqiri, Peter Odemwingie, Peter Crouch
Manager: Mark Hughes
Referee: Kevin Friend
Venue: Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, UK