A Didier Drogba goal, his 100th in the Premier League, gave RDM all three points in his first home game as Chelsea manager against 10 man Stoke City who offered very little going forward. John Terry & Ashley Cole returned to the starting line up, Luiz was given rest & we went with the same 4-2-3-1 system that was used in the FA Cup game vs Birmingham. Mata & Sturridge were on the bench as RDM set out a side to match the physical nature of the Stoke side.
We moved the ball quickly from the outset & had an early chance from a corner which Ivanovic headed over. Then, Cahill did well to exploit the space, took the ball to edge of Stoke penalty area & unleashed a powerful shot which was tipped around the post by Begovic. Fuller was given his marching orders on 24th min for an ugly stamp on Ivanovic which deserved a red card at the very least. Terry & Ivanovic both hit the woodwork before RDM decided to bring on Mata for Meireles in the 37th min & changed the system to 4-1-4-1 with Mata & Lampard operating together centrally for the first time.
We kept probing & passing the ball quicker without creating many chances (Usual case this season). We had 71.4% of possession, a total of 538 passes but only 197 of them were in the final third & created only 18 chances out of which only one was a clear-cut chance. On the flip side, at least we had 100% efficiency this time around.
More on Page 2: Off the ball running and Mata in the Final Third via StatsZone