Chelsea suffered their third Premier League defeat of the season on Saturday when they went down 3-2 at Stoke City. In an exciting game that saw plenty of chances for both sides it was the home side who ultimately edged it after early profligacy in front of goal cost the visitors dear.
Jose Mourinho’s men have now conceded three goals in their last two matches, and while they had enough firepower to overcome Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in midweek (a match the Blues won 4-3), they didn’t have the required finishing ability to get the better of the Potters in front of a vociferous crowd at the Britannia.
Things started well enough for the Pensioners when Andre Schurrle fired home after nine minutes, but lanky Peter Crouch levelled things up just before the break after Petr Cech was caught in no man’s land at a corner, leaving himself helpless to prevent the low effort.
Stoke came out after half time with all guns blazing, their equaliser having visibly galvanised the players. After good work on the right from Jonathan Walters, Stephen Ireland put the home side ahead with a curling shot that left Cech with no chance. The equaliser, though, was not long in coming, Schurrle popping up again to smash a fine half-volley past Asmir Begovic.
At 2-2 it looked like Chelsea were having the better of the play, but Stoke defended stoutly and refrained from simply sitting back in the hope of earning a point. It was left to Stoke’s Oussama Assaidi (on loan from Liverpool) to settle matters with a strike that deserved to win any match. Again Cech had no hope of preventing the venomous strike that nestled in the top corner, and – given it was scored as the 90 minutes were coming to an end – the visitors simply had no time to respond.
Blues boss Mourinho looked far from happy after the match, bemoaning his side’s wastefulness in the first half and the fact they have conceded six goals in two games. It was the first time they had conceded three goals in consecutive away matches since April/May 1998, and the Portuguese manager was clearly not impressed.
Given the lack of firepower or clinical finishing it is likely Chelsea will seek to dip into the transfer market in January, at least if they want to get themselves in a position to battle for the title. They will certainly need to improve at both ends of the pitch if they are to get anything when they face Arsenal at the Emirates on 23rd December, a match which could yet prove pivotal in the race to become Premier League champions.
They have two matches before that (both at home, to Steaua Bucharest and Crystal Palace) followed by a further two home matches in the league (Swansea and Liverpool), after which we will have a much better idea about whether Mourinho’s men are serious contenders for the title. On Saturday’s evidence we would have to say not.