Paul Merson: This is what will happen when Chelsea take on Stoke

Under Ranieri at times the organisation wasn't good. If it wasn't for Shakespeare it could have fallen apart a lot earlier.    Kevin Phillips
Under Ranieri at times the organisation wasn't good. If it wasn't for Shakespeare it could have fallen apart a lot earlier. Kevin Phillips
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19 March, 2017

Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table to 13 points with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium.

The Potters then hit back before half time with Jonathan Walters blasting home a penalty after he was pushed over in the box by Cahill.

Chelsea finally found a break through in the 87th minute as David Luiz's header from a corner was blocked, only for Cahill to smash home the loose ball. "I prefer to keep for me, which are these couple of situations, but I think you understand the reasons".

"It was an evenly matched game and they had late opportunities when we went for a goal".

It is one of Conte's many triumphs that he has managed to bring the best out of Costa, getting the Spaniard to concentrate on goals rather than wars on the pitch.

Chelsea have signed only four players since Conte was appointed 12 months ago, and only one of those, N'Golo Kante, was specifically requested by the manager, a point he is understood to have made forcibly in recent discussions with the club about transfer plans for next season.

Conte was without Hazard for the clash but he made to forget his worries as Willian scored a wonderful free-kick from an acute angle to give Chelsea the lead.

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Stoke ended the game with 10 men after Phil Bardsley was dismissed for a second bookable offence, following a foul on abregas.

Surprisingly it took Costa 17 minutes to take the bait and earn the game's first booking for dissent.

Grant did go some way to atoning for that error on the half-hour mark, though, making a crucial save to deny Marcos Alonso from close range as Chelsea looked to build a two-goal cushion.

Along with Kante he's a front runner for the Premier League Player of the Season award, having rediscovered his form following a dip a year ago under Jose Mourinho.

Match Stat: Chelsea have only won two of their last seven games away to Stoke in all competitions. First, we will try to win the next game in the league against Stoke and, when the cup comes, we are going to try to win it.

Stoke return to action today to take on a Chelsea side flying high at the top of the Premier League.


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