Stoke City/Chelsea - DejaVu?

Stoke City/Chelsea - DejaVu?

The second bore draw of the opening weekend of the EPL went down at the Britannia Stadium as Chelsea were held by Stoke City. The same fixture last season gave us a 1-1 draw, with Chelsea in the driving seat throughout, and Stoke being the solid outfit we’ve come to expect of them. Was it the same story this time round? Or did Stoke turn the tables and dominate the Pensioners this time around?

Stoke City FC – Begovic; Wilson (Yellow), Woodgate, Huth, Shawcross (Yellow); Pennant, Whelan, Delap, Etherington; Jones, Walters. Subs – Whitehead for Etherington, Pugh for Delap, Shotton for Jones.

Chelsea FC – Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, Cole (Yellow); Mikel, Ramires, Lampard (Yellow); Malouda, Torres, Kalou. Subs – Anelka for Malouda, Drogba for Kalou, Benayoun for Torres.

The simple answer – no. Chelsea are Chelsea after all. With nearly 2/3rds of the total possession (66-34%), nearly 4 times the amount of shots (15-4) and very nearly double the amount of accurate passes (387-144), its Chelsea: That’s what I call dominance. Stoke really struggled with their pass completion rate – only 51% of their passes making their intended targets, whilst Chelsea’s was 76%.

Stoke attempted double the amount of tackles of Chelsea, but only winning 6 more (20-14). In their 119 possession duels, Stoke edged Chelsea by winning 64, losing 55, and also won more in the air – 14-11. Stoke also managed 8 more interceptions, conceded one less foul out of the 25 in the match and were caught outside only once to Chelsea’s 5. This is a pattern which has followed on from the fixture last season, with Stoke seemingly more solid in defence and midfield, winning more of the ball in these types of situations.

In attack, the story of last season continues. No goals means no assists, but Chelsea managed to create 4 more chances than Stoke’s 6, had 15 successful dribbles to 6, and managed 7 shots on target to Stoke’s 1. Chelsea managed 43 ‘long passes’ to Stoke’s 35, and in terms of the long ball, Chelsea managed to outdo the stereotypical long ball specialists by 31-21. Throw ins are supposed to be Stoke’s forte, but when you’re success rate of only 30%, compared to Chelsea’s 86%.

Despite this, Stoke entered the final third more times than Chelsea – 71 to 62. This is slightly misleading, as there is no data on how long they stayed there. In light of this, Chelsea’s 155 final third passes to Stoke’s 96 should be an indicator that Chelsea spent longer – or were at least much more active in the final third than Stoke were.

The blues managed 746 touches of the ball to Stokes 512 – with a total of 1258 touches, and taking into consideration Stokes possession rate of 34%, in terms of probability theory, they should have touched the ball 428 times, and Chelsea 830. Of course, Football doesn’t work like this, and there are innumerable variables for this outcome – their ability to win the ball back and Chelsea’s inability to keep a hold of possession whilst under pressure to name but two.

Overall? It seems that most Stoke vs Big Four (Five? Six?) team takes the same route – domination, perspiration, draw/narrow loss. Stoke are too solid in defence for many to break down, but up front they lack a cutting edge. Jones is good, but needs a proven goalscorer alongside him to be effective. Walters isn’t that man, and neither is Fuller in my opinion. I said before that Goodwille would have been perfect. Now that option is off the table, there are very few cheapish but good goalscorers on the market. Etherington being out for a possible 10 weeks is a huge blow, but Woodgate had a solid game; and a clean sheet is a clean sheet.

Next week, it’s Norwich away after a tough away Europa League playoff tie against FC Thun.