Chelsea overcame a fightback from a stubborn Stoke City side managed by Mark Hughes on the last day of 2016 to win 4-2 on the night at Stamford Bridge. The Blues were pegged back twice after going ahead but conjured a spirited performance to win the game by a two-goal margin in the end.
Goals from Gary Cahill, a brace from Willian and a late effort by Diego Costa sealed the win for the London club after Bruno Martins Indi and Peter Crouch tried to spoil the party. Chelsea have now extended their winning run to 13 consecutive games in a row and put on a show of resilience to overcome Stoke.
Here are the player ratings
Thibaut Courtois – 6/10
The Belgian wasn’t calm and composed in the game and clearly lacked concentration throughout the game with a few instances of him almost putting his side in trouble by trying to pass out from goal. He missed a simple back pass due to bad bounce and conceded a needless corner in the 27th minute and could do nothing for both the Stoke goals. He did make a few routine saves.
Cezar Azpilicueta – 7/10
Azpilicueta was ever present at the back for Chelsea in their three-man defence. He often got stuck in and made telling tackles whenever necessary. He made a vital interception in the 13th minute to deny Martins Indi a tap in and made another brilliant interception to deny Peter Crouch in the 81st minute. He conceded some fouls but was Chelsea’s more reliable defender on the night.
David Luiz – 6.5/10
Luiz was put to the test by Peter Crouch and struggled to cope with the height of the Englishman, losing out a number of telling duels with the forward. He made a vital clearance in the 11th minute to deny Croch and Shawcross space, then attacked well and even managed to put in a cross in the 21st minute.
The Brazilian put in a sublime ball to Costa from the back in the 33rd minute that caused all kinds of trouble for Stoke. His general ball play was good and he did make some good interceptions and clearances but it wasn’t his best game.
Gary Cahill – 7.5/10
Cahill seems to have adjusted to captaining Chelsea really well and led from the front in yesterday’s game. He struck a menacing header in the 22nd minute from a corner and then got on the scoresheet with a brilliant headed goal on 33' mins from a corner by Fabregas.
He was assured at the back and made a few important clearances but could have done better positionally for the goals.
Victor Moses – 6.5/10
Moses could not get the better of Pieters for large parts of the game but he kept at it and was instrumental in the build up for Willian’s goal in the 57th minute. However, his final ball was poor all night and it is an aspect of his game that he needs to work on. He got booked in the 24th minute and then got substituted for Ivanovic in the 82nd minute.
N'Golo Kante – 7/10
Kante surprisingly had a shot in the 6th minute and duly mopped up all the loose balls in the opposition half, covering the pitch well as he so often does. He won a few free-kicks for his industry and made tackles to break up the game.
Cesc Fabregas – 8/10
Fabregas has grown in stature and importance after not being able to get a run in the side for the first few months of the season. He put in Costa in the 18th minute but the Spaniard’s powerful effort was saved. He then assisted Cahill from a corner in the 34th minute, and put in free-kicks that caused problems to the Stoke defence.
The Spaniard hit a brilliant ball to Willian in the 64th minute just a minute after Stoke scored, which the Brazilian finished. Two assists on the night and dictating play and spreading the ball intelligently in the 73 minutes he played, capped off a good display for the Spain midfielder but his stamina and defending needs to improve.
Marcos Alonso – 7/10
Alonso was a constant outlet for Chelsea on the left flank and showed a lot of stamina, especially considering the busy fixture list in the Premier League. He was involved in some tussles and got booked in the 70th minute after clattering Diouf. He took the throw in that led to Diego Costa’s goal in the 85th minute anda shot that went close after galloping up the field in the 90th minute.
Willian – 9/10
A resurgent Willian showed why Antonio Conte trusted him instead of Pedro for this game. He tried to make things happen in the first half but was contained by Stoke. In the second half, he was a completely different player and lethal in front goal. He smashed the ball in at the 56th-minute mark after a brilliant Hazard lay off and then quickly got his side back ahead a minute after Stoke scored to make it 3-2 in the 64th minute after Fabregas played him in.
Quick and emphatic in the finish and everywhere in the second half, this was Willian at his deadly best.
Diego Costa – 8/10
Costa was a menace all night causing all kinds of problems for Stoke. His shot in the 17th minute after Fabregas played him in was brilliantly saved, he then went into a head first attempt for the ball in a tussle with Stoke goalkeeper Grant, which then fell to Hazard. He finally got his goal in the 85th minute after powering his way past Martins Indi in the box and smashing the ball into the net past Grant.
Eden Hazard – 7/10
Hazard took a shot in the 5th minute and threatened with incisive runs and passes but could not do serious damage. His assist on 56 minutes to Willian was a brilliant cushioned lay-off perfect for the Brazilian to finish. He grew in the second half and played some good passes into the box. He had another shot in the 57th minute that Johnson hacked off the face of goal.
Nathaniel Chalobah – 5/10
Chalobah came on for the excellent Willian late in the game.
Nemanja Matic – 6/10
Matic came on for Fabregas in the 73rd minute and shored up the midfield and did his job well. Stoke did not score after he came on.
Branislav Ivanovic – 5/10
Ivanovic came on for Moses and did his job of not allowing Stoke to score any more goals.
Lee Grant – 7/10
Grant made a number of brilliant saves all game but could do nothing to stop the four goals. If it wasn’t for him, Stoke would have probably conceded more. He made a brilliant stop to deny Costa on 17 minutes and then made an emphatic double save after colliding with Costa and then stopping Eden Hazard’s rebound effort.
Glen Johnson – 5.5/10
Johnson did limit Hazard’s influence slightly but could not stop Marcos Alonso from finding space consistently. He had an average game and his only notable effort going forward was a cross in the 81st minute.
Ryan Shawcross – 6/10
Shawcross was given a torrid time by Diego Costa who kept battling with him all game. He made a number of fouls and was lucky to escape a booking after bringing the Spaniard down in the 55th minute. He could not limit Costa’s all round gameplay and was often second best to the Chelsea striker.
Martins Indi – 6/10
Martins Indi did well to find space and prod the ball past Courtois to equalise for his side in the 46th minute after a Crouch cushioned header. But later in the game was bullied by Diego Costa who got the better of him and scored late on.
Mame Biram Diouf – 6/10
Diouf worked hard on the right but was very nervous on the ball and could not contribute as much going forward as he would have liked. He did however get an assist after squaring the ball to Crouch after Bojan played him in. He got booked after a tussle with Alonso in the 70th minute.
Ibrahim Affelay – 5/10
Affelay started brightly and showed some good flashes but then faded as the game wore on. He was ineffective and could not influence the game even after dropping deep. He was replaced in the 62nd minute for Imbula.
Charlie Adam – 6.5/10
Adam’s set pieces were a constant bother for Chelsea. He was good in possession and sprayed the ball around effectively but was poor with his tackling as usual. He was involved in the build-up to both Stoke goals.
Erik Pieters – 6.5
Pieters played valiantly to negate Moses throughout the game and was Stoke’s best defender on the night. He stopped all of Moses’s crosses except one, but was turned inside out by the wing-back in the build up to Willian’s goal.
Joe Allen – 6/10
Allen could not exert his influence on the game but did start well. A couple of good passes in the 5th and 16th minute caused Chelsea some bother but he was negated by the workhorse N’Golo Kante.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 5/10
Shaqiri was wasteful with the ball in the few times that he got space. He ballooned a cross in the 11th minute and then did the same with a shot in the 25th minute. He then gifted the ball to Chelsea in the 50th minute and made a clumsy tackle on Kante to try to recover. He was taken off in the 60th minute
Peter Crouch – 7.5/10
Crouch got a rare start for Stoke and performed admirably. He constantly caused David Luiz problems, winning balls in the air and putting himself about. He assisted Martins Indi with a header after Adam’s free-kick in the 46th minute and then finished well to bring his side level at 2-2 after a pass by Diouf in the 64th minute. A goal and an assist was his contribution to the game.
G. Imbula – 5/10
Imbula came on for the ineffective Affelay and made a few runs but could not do anything significant.
Bojan – 6/10
Bojan came on in the 61st minute for Shaqiri and made a telling impact in the build up to Crouch’s goal, he should have started.