Chelsea ended 2017 by completely outclassing Stoke and moving up into second place. The Blues’ 5-0 win was their biggest winning margin in the league all year and Mark Hughes paid a heavy price for fielding a much-changed team. Goals from Antonio Rudiger, Danny Drinkwater, Pedro, Willian and Davide Zappacosta were the difference as Stoke had just one attempt all game.
Antonio Rudiger’s goal after just three minutes set the tone for the rest of the game when he rose above the Stoke defenders to head in Willian’s free kick. It was 2-0 six minutes later when Danny Drinkwater notched his first Chelsea goal in emphatic fashion. The ball fell to him on the edge of the area and the Englishman volleyed it into the far top corner of Jack Butland’s goal leaving the Potters’ keeper with no chance. It was an incredible effort and well deserved after a very promising start to his Chelsea career.
With Eden Hazard being rested, Willian and Pedro started in the front three with Alvaro Morata and the two wingers linked up for Chelsea’s third goal. Willian fed Pedro on the edge of the area and the Spaniard caressed the ball into his path and whipped a low shot across Butland and into the far corner – an exquisite finish. Stoke went into the game having made six changes and leaving almost all their attacking threat on the bench. They went into the half-time break without having had a shot; not one.
After a quiet spell in terms of goals, the scoring resumed once again when Geoff Cameron brought down Willian in the area and Kevin Friend pointed to the penalty spot. The Brazilian picked himself up and slotted home the penalty himself, giving his side a 4-0 lead. Saido Berahino had Stoke’s only chance of the game when Charlie Adam put the ball in behind Gary Cahill but Thibaut Courtois managed to beat away the striker’s effort. Berahino is yet to score for the Potters having signed for them almost a year ago and is without a goal since February 2016.
Timoue Bakayoko, Michy Bastshuayi and Davide Zappacosta were brought on by Antonio Conte and the latter got his first Premier League goal when he ventured infield and fired a shot into the near side of the goal with his left foot. It really was a humbling defeat for Stoke who face Newcastle on New Year’s Day and, after their performance at Stamford Bridge, they could be playing for their manager’s future.
After Southampton held Manchester United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford in the late kick-off on Saturday, Chelsea will finish 2017 in second place a point ahead of Jose Mourinho’s side. They still trail the leaders Manchester City by 14 points but did gain some ground on Pep Guardiola’s men after they were also held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.