Chelsea boss Antonio Conte praised his players for coping with Stoke’s “long ball” approach after Willian’s double helped seal a 4-2 win.
The Blues clinched their 13th consecutive league victory, matching a top-flight record, but only after Stoke had twice pegged them back in the second half.
Conte described the game, in which the Potters used the height of Peter Crouch and the inventiveness of Charlie Adam and Xherdan Shaqiri to great effect, as an example of how tough the Premier League can be.
“This game was very competitive,” he said.
“Today is another example when I talk about the difficulty of this league.
“We faced a really good team. They played this long ball, [it was] very difficult and very hard to intercept the second ball.
“I am pleased because my players showed me they are able to adapt to a different type of football.
“I am pleased for the performance, for the attitude and for the commitment of my players.
“But in three days we’ll have another tough game against Tottenham. It’s important tonight to celebrate New Year and from tomorrow start to think about that game.”
Conte also revealed Cesc Fabregas, who laid on the fourth goal for Diego Costa, was taken off late on both to prevent him being sent-off and to introduce Nemanja Matic as a screen in front of the defence.
The Blues boss said: “Cesc took a yellow card and it was a particular moment of the game when I preferred to call Matic, to deal with the long balls.”