Willian’s first half free kick and Gary Cahill’s 87th-minute strike gave Chelsea a 2-1 victory over Stoke at the Bet 365 Stadium on Saturday to take them 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League standings.
It was a game in which the London club dominated and could have scored more goals if not for Lee Grant.
There are more positives for Chelsea in this tie than the negatives.
Here are three things we observed in the game.
1. Same old story
It seems the only way you can get past Chelsea is through set pieces.
90% of the goals Chelsea have conceded in the past few games have come from the set plays and once again the looked vulnerable the few times Stoke went at them.
Although they eventually dealt with some of the setplays in this particular tie, the penalty Cahill gave away was as a result of pushing a player in the box after a good delivery from a free-kick.
2. Chelsea not just about Kante or Hazard
There is no taking away what Kante and Hazard has done for Chelsea so far, in fact there have been arguments on who should win the player of the season if/when Chelsea win the Premier League.
But without one of these players today Chelsea totally dominated possession and won on the ground they lost two games last season. Willian stepped up his game and Pedro continued to be Mr. Reliable for the Blues.
They team showed character and the players gave more than 100% to get the result needed on the day.
These two players are exceptional but they are as important as Diego Costa whose link up plays, pressure and playing down the channels helped the team a whole lot, and other players who else kept the shape and contributed to the success of the team.
3. Conte has a plan B and it works
Towards the end of 2nd half Conte switched from 3-4-3 to 4-2-3-1 and from then on it was all Chelsea till the goal eventually came.
They say if it is not broken don’t fix it, if Chelsea need to change from their 3 at the back to another formation, a 4-2-3-1 could do the work as shown yesterday and couple of their games where they had to chase the game.