Chelsea 4-2 Stoke: Blues match Arsenal’s Premier League winning run

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Chelsea 4-2 Stoke: Blues match Arsenal’s Premier League winning run

Chelsea matched Arsenal’s record for the most consecutive Premier League wins in a season with a thrilling 4-2 victory against Stoke on New Year’s Eve.

The Blues have now won 13 games in a row – the same as the Gunners side from the 2001/02 campaign – and took the lead just after 30 minutes thanks to Gary Cahill’s header.

But Bruno Martins Indi scored the fastest second-half goal of the season just 54 seconds after the restart to get Stoke level, before Willian scored his first of two goals ten minutes later to put the Blues back ahead.

The Potters continued to test their hosts, though, with Peter Crouch scoring his first Premier League goal since the final day of the 2014/15 season in the 64th minute before Willian netted again a minute later to make it 3-2.

Diego Costa – returning to the side after a suspension on Boxing Day – had the final word with five minutes of normal time to play to round off the victory and send Chelsea nine points clear.

The first-half was a slow burner, with a shot from N’Golo Kante – also back in the side after his one-game ban – in the seventh minute being the pick of the action from the opening exchanges.

Lee Grant was then called into action twice in quick succession to deny Chelsea. The first came in the 19th minute as Costa rounded Mame Biram Diouf on the left of the box, but his shot was kept out by the diving chest of the goalkeeper before he collected the rebound after it came off the back of Martins Indi.

He was in action again three minutes later to palm away a Cahill header before Charlie Adam saw his own headed effort skim wide from a Xherdan Shaqiri corner in the best chance of the half for Stoke.

Grant produced another heroic save in the 33rd minute to deny Costa once again. David Luiz played a sublime ball down the field that picked out the striker, who turned Ryan Shawcross before shooting, but the Stoke stopper was off his line to block the effort. He then recovered well to palm away the rebound from Eden Hazard.

But Grant could do nothing about the resulting corner, as Cahill rose above the Stoke defence in the box to power home from a Cesc Fabregas corner to put the hosts in front heading into the break.

It was a goal-laden second half and Stoke equalised with their first shot on target within a minute of the restart. Adam fired a delightful free kick into the box that found the head of Crouch at the back post, that the striker nodded into the path of Martins Indi who steered the ball home.

Chelsea were in front again ten minutes later, though, in what was a fine team goal. Victor Moses got away from Erik Pieters on the right of the box before his low cross found Hazard in the middle. The Belgian took one touch to put the ball into the path of Willian who curled home a delightful effort through four Stoke players.

With 26 minutes of the game to play, the Potters again got themselves level to give the Premier League leaders another obstacle to overcome. A great long ball from Adam found Crouch at the top of the box, who produced great control to try and find a way into the box with support from Bojan. The latter the picked out Diouf on the right, whose cross was turned home by Crouch after he got ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta.

But amid the elation, Stoke switched off momentarily and allowed Chelsea to again go ahead a minute later. A loose pass from the visitors set off Fabregas towards the box, who slipped in Willian on the right and he took a few steps before hitting home from a tight angle to beat Grant.

Both sides had chances to get the next goal as the game headed towards a thrilling conclusion, with a gut-busting break from Willian, Hazard and Costa seeing the striker power a shot over the bar before a sublime Glen Johnson cross was poked wide by Azpilicueta who was ahead of a waiting Crouch.

Costa had the final say of the game though, coming with five minutes of normal time to play. A throw-in from Marcos Alonso was headed into the box by Adam, arriving at the feet of the Chelsea striker who beat both Shawcross and Martins Indi before nestling the ball into the back of the net.

The Blues can now set a new Premier League record for the most consecutive wins in a single season when they face London rivals Tottenham on Wednesday evening, aiming for their 14th victory.

Player ratings

Chelsea: Courtois (7), Cahill (7), Azpilicueta (7), David Luiz (7), Alonso (7), Fabregas (7), Kante (6), Moses (7), Hazard (7), Costa (8), Willian (8).

Subs used: Matic (6), Ivanovic (4), Chalobah (4).

Stoke: Grant (7), Johnson (6), Shawcross (6), Martins Indi (7), Pieters (7), Allen (6), Adam (7), Diouf (5), Afellay (5), Shaqiri (6), Crouch (6).

Subs used: Imbula (4), Bojan (5).

Man of the match: Willian