Stoke City 1-0 Chelsea: Gutsy Potters hold off late Blues charge

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Chelsea has lost three-straight matches to sink to 16th in the Premier League after a 1-0 loss to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

The Blues were without suspended manager Jose Mourinho, and gave up a good-looking airborne goal to Marko Arnautovic in the loss.

Stoke rises to 12th, with 16 points. Chelsea is as close to 20th as 10th, but should’ve been awarded a penalty when Loic Remy was cut down in the box by Jack Butland.

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The game started contentiously, as the two sides clearly carried over some animosity for their League Cup date on Oct. 27, and was delayed for a while when Erik Pieters stooped to head a 50/50 ball and took a boot to the face for Pedro. Blood and guts and a new kit were needed for the Stoke defenders.

Ramires nearly put Chelsea up with a belted, dipping shot from just outside the 18, but Jack Butland continued his impressive play with a punch over the bar.

Neither side could do well with good service in the first half hour. Diego Costa couldn’t get on the end of a great cross from Eden Hazard in the Stoke end, and then Jonathan Walters popped-up a header off Xherdan Shaqiri‘s ball at the other.

Butland made a great sliding stop of a Diego Costa shot late in the half after the Spanish national teamer worked a classy 1-2 with Pedro.

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The Potters took the lead in the 53rd minute, as Arnautovic went sideways to hit a waist-high ball past a diving Asmir Begovic.

The Blues looked rudderless in the moments after conceding the opener, and Stoke could’ve made it 2-0 or 3-0 through Arnautovic and later Xherdan Shaqiri, but found life when Hazard found Pedro atop the arc, though the ex-Barca man blasted his shot off the far post.

Cesc Fabregas and Oscar were introduced in the 70th minute, as Chelsea took off Pedro and Baba Rahman.

A nifty bit of 80th minute passing ended with Hazard having a shot deflected out for a corner.

At the other end Walters couldn’t take advantage of a well-won ball by Ibrahim Afellay, rifling a good chance well over the bar.

And then a massive chance was missed by Loic Remy, who leapt over a sliding Butland but couldn’t collect the ball. It was a double whammy with no penalty given, and no chance converted.

Despite that foul, Butland was again tremendous. How long before he gets his chance for England?

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Costa was especially poor on the evening, while Fabregas didn’t contribute much upon his arrival. Hazard looked livelier than he had in weeks, but Chelsea still had no answers.

Still, much credit should be given to the Potters. They took their chances and then sunk all 10 field players behind the ball. Even if Remy should’ve earned a PK, Stoke did more than enough to gain a point.