Didier Drogba, who turns 34 on Sunday, celebrated the Blues’ 107th anniversary with his 100th Premier League goal as Di Matteo’s men finally managed to break down 10-man Stoke City at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea maintained the pressure on Arsenal in the race for fourth place.
Drogba bagged his 8th goal of the season after 68th minute of a tense encounter at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea notched their second victory since last week’s sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas. He also became the 1st African to score 100 goals in EPL. The win saw interim manager Roberto Di Matteo‘s side go level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal, who can restore their three-point lead with victory over Newcastle United tomorrow. Stoke, who were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Ricardo Fuller for a stamp on Branislav Ivanovic, slipped to 10th in the table. With league leaders Manchester City and second-placed Manchester United playing today, yesterday saw a reduced fixture schedule.
It took them an age to break the resistance of 10-man Stoke and the narrow victory was not enough to haul the Blues back into fourth place in the Premier League table. Maybe Chelsea fans will point to their team hitting the woodwork 3 times in this game. The first League match since the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas proved nothing; certainly not that caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo has an instant magical formula. De Matteo was little different from AVB. At least he didn’t put Fernando Torres through the torture of going onto the field and not scoring! But, the winning goal came in the 68th minute from Didier Drogba, his 100th in the Premier League, the finish cool and collected after a sublime pass from Juan Mata. Chelsea had required more than 40 minutes to take advantage of numerical superiority after the dismissal of Stoke forward Ricardo Fuller for a blatant stamp on the thigh of Branislav Ivanovic. Drogba had seen his excellent free-kick tipped away by Begovic when it was heading for the top corner of the net later in the match.
The game was tetchy throughout, the consequence of Stoke’s ever-physical approach and Chelsea’s desire to fight fire with fire. It made for a poor spectacle, except when Mata was on the ball. John Terry had returned to the Chelsea side after an absence of eight matches due to a knee injury. He was cheered by the home fans and buffeted by the opposition players. Mata, David Luiz and Daniel Sturridge had all been left on the bench, perhaps with the midweek Champions League match against Napoli in mind. They were all required, though, to fashion a crucial victory, leaving Torres unused. Sturridge had a couple of decent shots, but was a fitful presence.
“Today was a step in the right direction and sometimes you have to win like this to get three points,”
- Jose Mourinho has ruled out a sentimental return to Chelsea after agreeing an extension to his Real Madrid contract.
- Chelsea are still confident they can secure the signature of Spanish left-back Jordi Alba, despite reports claiming he is closing on a switch to Barcelona. Former Chelsea boss Andres Villas-Boas
was keen to bring the highly-rated Valencia defender to Stamford Bridge before being relieved of his duties last week, however it is still believed officials at the London club are confident they can broker a deal to bring Alba to Stamford Bridge. Alba’s contract expires next summer withValencia pushing the 22-year-old to pen a new deal, however those talks have stalled, leading to increased speculation he is on his way out.
- Drogba is in the final year of his contract and talks have failed to yield an extension. It is believed the forward wants a two-year deal, but the club have yet to match his demands. There is the prospect of Chelsea losing their most potent attacking threat on a free transfer in the summer, but it is a subject Di Matteo has no desire to be drawn into. “That’s not for me to discuss,” Di Matteo said. “The club will make their decision when it’s the time to make it. He’s been great for this club.”
- Drogba fires for Chelsea (thehindu.com)
- Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City: Drogba pounces to give Di Matteo a second straight win after Fuller red card (goal.com)
- De Matteo gets his First Win… Its Birmingham 0 Chelsea 2 (chelseanewsletter.wordpress.com)
- Chelsea v Stoke City: Roberto Di Matteo confident he can handle the pressure at Stamford Bridge (telegraph.co.uk)