Chelsea maintained their perfect premier league away record this season with a ruthless 4-0 win over Mark Hughes’ Stoke City courtesy of an Alvaro Morata hat-trick. The result means Chelsea keep the gap between them and the Manchester clubs down to 3 points with a massive fixture at home to leaders Manchester City in a week’s time.
Antonio Conte’s men took the lead at the Bet365 stadium in under two minutes when Tiemoue Bakayoko won the ball outside the Chelsea area before good work on the ball led to Cesar Azpilicueta playing a delightful ball over a makeshift Stoke back four to release Alvaro Morata, who coolly slotted past Jack Butland to give the blues an early lead.
Stoke applied good pressure and Chelsea struggled to find their rhythm, but were gifted the opportunity to double their lead when a slack touch from Darren Fletcher was latched onto by Pedro, who finished brilliantly into Butland’s bottom right hand corner.
Stoke increased the pressure in the second half and perhaps will have felt hard done by that Chelsea wing back Marcos Alonso wasn’t sent off after a string of offenses following a yellow card for a late challenge on Joe Allen. The Spaniard was withdrawn to loud boos from the home fans and his replacement Gary Cahill was unable to stop Peter Crouch from touching the ball on to Mame Biram Diouf inside the Chelsea box, but the Senegalese striker blazed over the bar.
Stoke’s best chance to halve the deficit came when Xherdan Shaqiri whipped in a brilliant free-kick, but Fletcher was unable to connect, despite being unmarked, to the frustration of home fans.
It was an error that he likely regretted when a Glen Johnson pass was intercepted by Bakayoko who fed Morata. The Spaniard charged at Fletcher from just past the halfway line, easily beating him for pace before calmly slotting past Jack Butland at an angle. The goal ended any hope Stoke had of a revival and Chelsea took full control, Cesc Fabregas releasing Azpilicueta in behind the back four on the left hand side before the defender chested the ball down for Morata to pass into an empty net, completing his hat-trick.
It was an excellent performance by the Spaniard and it came at a good time, following the recent news of fellow Spaniard Diego Costa edging towards a move to Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea may not have been at their brilliant best, but the quality in their side is clear to see. Antonio Conte’s focus now switches to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening in the UEFA Champions League before the blues welcome Manchester City on Saturday afternoon in a top of the table clash.
Stoke’s miserable record against Chelsea continues; the potters have lost more premier league games and conceded more goals against the blues than any other opponent. The result leaves them 15th in the table with 5 points from 6 games.