The weekend of upsets just got bigger as Stoke City put in an inspired second half display to send Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea to a third defeat of the season at the Britannia Stadium. Andre Schurrle’s tremendous return to form proved in vain as goals from Peter Crouch, Stephen Ireland and Oussama Assaidi helped Stoke secure a famous victory over their highly fancied rivals. Here are 5 talking points from the match.
Petr Cech’s goalkeeping
Normally a reliable figure under the bar, Petr Cech has failed to reproduce the excellent form that he has carried over the past two seasons, the form that prompted Czech Republic captain to be on Barcelona’s radar as a replacement for the out of sorts Victor Valdes. This season, Cech has been inconsistent between the sticks, and has kept only 4 clean sheets so far. In this match, Cech was at fault for Stoke City’s first goal that cancelled out Schurrle’s 9th minute opener.
A harmless Stoke corner turned into disaster for Cech as he raced out of his line to a ball well beyond his reach. He did try to retreat but by then the ball had fallen to Peter Crouch who grabbed the opportunity with both hands and slotted through the legs of Cech. Cech has been at fault with both his decision making as well as his positioning, many a time this season. With December being a crucial juncture for Chelsea in all competitions, Mourinho will be hoping that Cech will regain the form that he displayed against Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League two seasons ago, couple of performances that shall remain etched in Chelsea lore.
Chelsea’s strike force
Chelsea’s frontline was largely in absentia on Saturday night as both goals came from the feet of a midfielder going by the name of Andre Schurrle. Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o failed to find the net for the Blues in what continues to be an alarming trend for the West Londoners. Chelsea’s strikers have been out of sorts for most of the season, with most of the goals coming from midfield with the likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Frank Lampard finding the net regularly.
But Chelsea supporters may argue that Mourinho’s highly successful first spell at Chelsea also witnessed a similar trend, with most goals coming from midfield. With Didier Drogba being the striker he is, it is no surprise that Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Damien Duff and Joe Cole found the net quite often. But the same cannot be said this season as Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea’s loanee at Everton has found the net more often in the Premier League than Torres, Ba and Eto’o combined. If Chelsea are to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League, it definitely will not be surprising if Mourinho decides to “Stoke” his frontline in the January transfer window.