Chelsea moved closer to regaining the Premier League title with a 2-1 win at Stoke, earned through Gary Cahill’s late goal. Here’s how we rated the Blues players in the Potteries.
Thibaut Courtois: 6
Had very little to do, except pick the ball out of the net – twice at it happens, but Bruno Martins Indi’s goal was chalked off for a foul by Saido Berahino.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7
A victory on his 150th Premier League appearance and a solid personal performance, even if he occasionally had trouble against the lively Ramadan Sobhi.
David Luiz: 9
An excellent display – supremely composed, both in the air and on the ball, even after needing treatment following a first-half clash with Jonathan Walters. His free-kick from long range caused some problems for Stoke keeper Lee Grant and he helped set up the winning goal.
Gary Cahill: 7
At one point, his foul on Walters – be it a nudge in the back or an inadvertent clip of the ankle – looked like costing his side two points. But he made amends by being in the right place at the right time to score the winner.
Victor Moses: 6
Bright in patches going forward, including a couple of incisive passes, but he lacked a real impact. Replaced by Cesc Fabregas with 20 minutes to play.
N’Golo Kante: 8
Another tireless performance, breaking up play and barely wasting a pass. For all Chelsea’s flamboyance, there is no more important player to their system than the Frenchman.
Nemanja Matic: 7
Kept his place ahead of Fabregas, perhaps unsurprisingly given Stoke’s physicality. He copped a bit of that himself while also winning a fair bit in the air, before being replaced with eight minutes to play by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Marcos Alonso: 8
Seems to be settling in to his left wing-back role and had a couple of chances to score. The best, though, came from a set-piece, his free-kick clattering off the crossbar.
His trademark last season was the overhit free-kick which sneaked in at the far post. Against Stoke, he managed to find a gap, with Grant’s help, at the near post. He was often involved in some of Chelsea’s back attacking work, though he always looks better when the game is more open.
Diego Costa: 7
A fired-up Costa is always a prime target of Stoke’s and he got himself embroiled in battles with a succession of home defenders, who were all keen to also have a pop at him. He did well to stay the right side of referee Anthony Taylor after his early booking for dissent. Struck the post late on.
Came in for the injured Eden Hazard and it was to his credit that Chelsea did not miss the mercurial Belgian. Made some telling passes and forced Grant into a good save.
Cesc Fabregas: 7
The earliest of the three substitutes, he had almost as many touches in his 20 minutes as the man he replaced – Moses – did in 70. He was also more useful to Chelsea and was involved in some key moments in the closing stages, including the sending-off of Phil Bardsley.