Álvaro Morata scored a hat trick to lead Chelsea to a 4-0 victory over Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday.
Both clubs made mistakes throughout the match, but it was Chelsea who capitalised on their opponent’s defensive errors. The scoreline could have easily been closer than the final result.
Without further ado, here are five things we learned from Stoke City and Chelsea’s Premier League tilt.
Álvaro, he comes from sunny Spain, he’s better than Harry Kane!
At least, that’s what the away Chelsea fans will want you to believe as they sing their songs.
It’s only been six matches into the Premier League season, but Morata has swiftly ushered in a new era of Chelsea strikers. With six goals already, he has established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
However, it’s a different type of force that Blues fans have been accustomed to over the past three seasons. Diego Costa, a street footballer growing up, always played with calculated aggression. His force was literally forcing himself into defenders, using his physicality to score goals.
Morata’s goal-scoring ability comes from a combination of technical skill and grace, as evidenced by his second goal of the day. If Costa were in that situation, I can imagine him tripping over the ball as it gets lost in his feet.
These are two completely different strikers. Chelsea fans will always be thankful for Costa’s goals that won two league titles during his three-year tenure. Morata is just making it easier to not miss him.
Giant killer in injury crisis
Stoke City away is never an easy fixture. It may not be a cold and rainy Tuesday, but the Potters always put up a tough fight, especially at home. They’ve already taken points away from Premier League favourites by defeating Arsenal, and drawing with Manchester United. It was safe to assume that Chelsea weren’t going to have it easy.
However, an injury crisis has crippled Stoke’s central defence. Captain Ryan Shawcross, and defenders Kevin Wimmer and Geoff Cameron sat out Saturday’s game to various injuries. Kurt Zouma was unable to play against his parent club, leaving Bruno Martins Indi as the only center-back able to play.
Mark Hughes still insisted on using the three-at-the-back formation he’s had success with, and inserted fullbacks Glen Johnson and Erik Pieters into left and right center-back roles. Unfamiliar with the position, the Stoke defenders gave up a goal to Morata two minutes into the match.
Zouma will be able to return for the next match against Southampton, and he’ll be sure to ease the worries of Stoke City fans. They’re still a fortress at home. The Potters have only lost four times at home since last December, but two of those losses were by the hands of Chelsea.
Young, wild, and reckless
Chelsea have received four red cards in all competitions this season, with the latest going to David Luiz after a late studs-up tackle on Sead Kolasinac. Marcos Alonso almost looked ready to make it five.
The Spanish defender fell to the ground holding his face after an aerial battle, but fans in the stadium perceived it as a way to waste time. Mike Dean didn’t see any foul in the incident, and play continued despite protests from the wing-back. Moments later, he received a yellow card for a late tackle.
Normally, players would play more carefully after being cautioned by the referee. Before play could calm down, Alonso made another late tackle. Mike Dean took his time to come to a decision, and eventually let Alonso off with a warning. In the eyes of many, it could have easily been a second yellow and a sending off.
Antonio Conte didn’t want to risk it, and almost immediately substituted Alonso for Gary Cahill. Chelsea need to play with more discipline, or they will risk suspensions to key players.
Change of pace with a splash of creativity
Even though Chelsea were leading for the majority of the game, momentum seemed to be on Stoke’s side. Chelsea’s build-up into attack failed time and time again, and they only scored when Stoke players made crucial mistakes, like Johnson being out of position or Darren Fletcher chesting the ball back to his goal into the path of a running Pedro.
A lot of the problems come down to the lineup selection for Chelsea. Pedro isn’t a creator, and Willian is nothing more than a work rate machine with flair. With those two starting on the flanks alongside Morata, chances would be hard to come by. The two wingers were eventually replaced by Eden Hazard and Cesc Fàbregas, and it made a huge difference in the attack.
The two of them, especially Hazard, will not be super subs for the club. They’ll need to start matches in order to have the most impact. However, it’s nice to see them open up the game like they did. Chelsea fans hope to see more of that in the future.
Kanté with the strength of David and Goliath
After watching him at Leicester City and Chelsea, we all should know the strength of N’Golo Kanté. He may be small, but he is powerful on the pitch, and he covers the entire ground tirelessly.
Kanté pushes players around with ease, and he works hard to be able to do that. This is probably why he placed #48 in the Sports Illustrated Fittest 50 for men.
Chelsea is lucky to have a player like Kanté patrolling the midfield. May he do it for a long time at Stamford Bridge.