THE DATA DAY: CHELSEA V STOKE CITY

A narrow home victory owed much to the impressive passing of a returning hero on Saturday, and the numbers show it was well deserved.

The weekend's statistics also suggest Stoke might be changing their spots…

Having had 60 per cent possession, Chelsea's pass completion was also higher than our opponents, though Stoke completed almost 100 more passes than they did at Stamford Bridge last season.

We had an 83 per cent success rate, completing 387 of 466 attempted passes, compared to Stoke's 231 from 306, a 75 per cent hit rate. Last season they completed just 138.

These stats hint at a change of style for the Potters, though there are other figures that suggest otherwise. Petr Cech hit four long passes towards team-mates at the weekend, his opposite number Asmir Begovic 14, of which seven were accurate.

Additionally Peter Crouch, leading the Stoke line, won nine of 11 aerial duels he was involved in, but also committed three fouls - both more than any other player.

One area where Stoke were more accurate than Chelsea was in their crossing, with 12 of 21 balls from out wide finding a man in red and white stripes. Contrastingly the Blues found their man only twice from 28 attempts.

Roberto Di Matteo said on Saturday he felt it was always a question of time before we scored. Stoke's 43 attempted clearances, compared to 18 from the Italian's side, seem to back his theory.

Few people would have backed Ashley Cole to score the game's only goal though, not least the left-back himself. His first goal in the Barclays Premier League since May 2010 was his one shot on target from three attempted against Stoke on Saturday. He had tried twice in all previous league games this season.

Juan Mata was the game's best passer with 55 finding their target from the 63 he tried. John Mikel Obi and Oscar were next with 50/56 and 48/54 respectively, the Brazilian completing 30 from 35 in the attacking third. Indeed eight of the game's top 10 passers were Chelsea players.

Mata created six chances for team-mates (including Cole's goal), twice the number of anybody else, with Fernando Torres and Stoke's Charlie Adam sharing second place with three apiece.

Oscar and Mata successfully linked 31 times, suggesting there is a blossoming understanding between the pair already. Mikel and Cole also combined 20 times.

Finally, Eden Hazard failed to beat an opponent with his dribbling skills on Saturday, but maintained his impact by being fouled four times, more than any other.