The perfect end

It was the perfect end to a fantastic 2017 for Chelsea, as we ended the year with a comfortable victory over Stoke. 

For the last visit to Stamford Bridge this year, we were treated to five goals and a superb team performance. I certainly overindulged over the Christmas period, but the Blues looked sharp and strong right from the start.

Conte made three changes to the line-up that beat Brighton on Boxing Day, with Pedro, Willian and Drinkwater all starting. It proved to be a great decision as all three ended up scoring! I thought they all put in great performances in our dismantlement of the Potters, while Willian, in particular, had a very successful afternoon, assisting both Rudiger and Pedro for their goals, before scoring our second league penalty of the season later on. 

There was a great atmosphere at the Bridge, only fuelled further by the array of spectacular goals that were put on before us. Toni Rudiger towered over the Stoke defenders to head home after just three minutes, Danny Drinkwater’s first goal for Chelsea was a brilliant volley from 25 yards out which found the top corner, and then both Pedro and Davide Zappacosta also produced great strikes from outside the box. There was an interesting fact highlighted on Match of the Day after the game yesterday evening - Zappacosta is the first Italian to score for Chelsea in the Premier League since Gianfranco Zola in 2003!

The scoreline could have been even harsher had it not been for some great saves from Stoke keeper, Jack Butland, who denied both Alvaro Morata and Pedro on a few occasions. But the Blues dominated and controlled the game throughout, and this allowed Conte to rest the likes of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, as well as sub Alvaro Morata, N'Golo Kante and Victor Moses off early in preparation for our trip to Arsenal on Wednesday.

A convincing win and brilliant performance meant the Chelsea fans left Stamford Bridge in great spirits, feeling optimistic for the new year. We leave behind 2017, a year in which we won our fifth Premier League title and a brilliant first season for Antonio Conte, whose name rang out from all four corners on Stamford Bridge.

Following our seventh consecutive home win, we will start 2018 sitting second in the Premier League. We are also still in contention for the Champions League, the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup. As Chelsea fans, we have every reason to be optimistic.

In his post-match conference, Conte commented, 'we just have to give everything in every game to try and get three points and then at the end of the season we will see what happens.'

Here’s to a great 2018, everyone – come on Chelsea!