Stoke City battled their way through some strong Chelsea attacks to hold out and grab a point on the opening day of the season and to ruin Andre Villas-Boas’ dream start.
With nearly 60% of the possession, 20 shots and 3 penalty appeals, Chelsea will be desperately frustrated to being held at the Britannia. During an interesting first half, Stoke pressed and pressed with Torres being Chelsea’s sharpest player. Fans will hope that that was the start of the Torres of before. But the second half told a different tale. While Stoke dominated the first, so Chelsea dominated the second, Anelka hitting the bar and some excellent saves from Begovic. With moments left, Andre Villas-Boas threw all he could at Stoke with Drogba coming on to with a front three of Anelka, Torres and Drogba, but all to no avail, and Chelsea will no doubt see this as two points dropped.
This was a match Andre Villas-Boas really had to get right. The start is crucial – being the first match, fans would want to see how Villas-Boas and the “new” Chelsea fared. At times, it was promising, with Torres being effectual, but Stoke for the majority of the game held Chelsea well despite having few attacks themselves, especially in the second half.
With a total of 20 shots, Roman could be pleased that there were many attacks and with 60% of the possession, again, Roman could be happy. But people, and the league, judge and base you on your goals, and two points dropped is a sour way to start the season.
No doubt Chelsea will improve, starting with West Brom at home in six days time. Chelsea will have to improve, because a few more draws and Villas-Boas’ ability, and Abramovich’s risk-taking, will be questioned ever more.