Chelsea 3 Stoke 0: Three talking points
Chelsea 3 Stoke 0: Three talking points as the Blues are emphatic winners against the Potters
Mourinho’s men still in title contention
Without a doubt this has been one of Mourinho’s most testing weeks since returning to the helm of Stamford Bridge. Back-to-back defeats is rare for any side lead by the 51-year-old but the manner they responded in today shows they have a lot more to come. Chelsea were not at their best and could have gone up a gear or two but it is just the result the side needed as the season enters into the defining stage. Paris Saint-Germain arrive in London on Tuesday looking to protect a 3-1 first leg lead, before the Blues face Swansea and Sunderland ahead of the much-anticipated clash at Liverpool. Mourinho has told his players that any more slip-ups are likely to be disastrous for the club but Tuesday could be the start of a special run of form. If they come out victorious against PSG, the confidence in the camp will be at an all time high and give the players a boost. It is a hard task but the French side will be fearing the prospect of playing at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho is unbeaten in 77 games at the ground and his troops have not conceded in 12 hours and 12 minutes there. Chelsea are more than capable of pulling off the result – one that could seriously give them the momentum to perform in the remaining Premier League fixtures.
It is no secret that Torres has been criticised by his manager of late and the decision not to start him in Paris would have done little to help his confidence. However, Mourinho put faith in his man today and even though he was unable to get on the scoresheet, he certainly played his part. He would have scored but for a fine save from Begovic, though more importantly showed that he still has the burning desire to hunt down the opposition defence in an attempt to make things happen. He will be judged on goals and if he wants to be on a flight to Brazil come summer then he must begin to hit the back of the net – something that could be pivotal to Mourinho’s title charge. If, and that is a big if, Torres can find the glittering form he experienced at Atletico Madrid and Liverpool, he could lead Chelsea’s charge for glory. We know he can do it England, this is a man who struck 81 times in 143 games on Merseyside. But for some reason or another he has failed to recreate that blistering form. Torres is likely to lead the way on Tuesday night as Chelsea chase at least two goals. The 30-year-old is a confidence player who just needs a couple of goals to give him the belief and if he can get into the same positions as he did against Stoke then the goals are sure to come. If that happens on Tuesday, fans can expect to see a different player for the remainder of the season.
Stoke’s lack of fighting spirit
Stoke sit in tenth position of the league – on 40 points. They are still yet to guarantee safety although are not very far away, but today’s performance will be a worry for Mark Hughes. From the first whistle, none of his players seemed up for it and Chelsea sprayed the ball freely all afternoon. Hughes’ side host Newcastle on Saturday and fans will be looking for an immediate response. The likes of Marko Arnautovic and Peter Crouch have showed throughout the season that they can provide the spark for the Potters but even those players looked non-existent today. Crouch barely saw the ball, not helped by a lack of movement on his part, and Arnautovic was a shadow of what we have come to see of him at times in this campaign. The Austrian had his side’s best chance of the match when he was played through by Steven Nzonzi, failing to bring the ball down when it mattered. Hughes will no doubt be aware that he has to instill the fight back into his players, if he can do that the Britannia faithful can be hopeful of ending the season on a high note. Those who do not step up for Hughes in the closing weeks may be brushed out of Hughes’ plans for next season.