Jose Mourinho had praise for the team after they dug in to earn a valuable victory which ensures we top the table at Christmas.
John Terry headed us in front just 90 seconds into a physical encounter, and Chelsea rarely looked troubled from that point onwards.
Eden Hazard was the subject of some tough challenges, while Diego Costa was engaged in an engaging battle with Stoke’s captain Ryan Shawcross, who was voted his side’s man of the match.
Cesc Fabregas added a second to take the Blues beyond reach, the Spaniard having been pushed higher up into a No10 role with the excellent Nemanja Matic and John Mikel Obi in holding midfield, with Mourinho explaining the way the team approached the game...
‘To win here we must play a very good game,’ he said. ‘We did it because we adapted well to their style of play, when they had the ball. When we had the ball we tried not to lose our identity and play our game.
‘To score in the beginning is important but not so much in this stadium because they are always strong, the crowd is behind them and the team is mentally strong. They have good players, a good bench and Mark Hughes can make changes because he has players for that. It was a very difficult victory.
‘It’s a victory that means a bit more than the three points, not just because it’s difficult but because to win here you need to put more than just your quality in. The players were together, they coped well with a difficult style and were not afraid to have responsibility. Our creative players were not afraid to assume the game and create, our defensive players were very solid, so only with a great team performance is it possible to be successful against Stoke.’
On Eden Hazard’s performance, having suffered a hefty tackle from Phil Bardsley early on
‘He did a lot. We need that. Today we decided to play Mikel and Matic so we lose one creative player. We had that stability in the team, and left Fabregas, WIllian and Hazard the responsibility to create and they were not afraid to do that. They put themselves in every situation and I think the kid was fantastic.
‘It was a difficult fight for the kid, but also a difficult match for Bardsley. He showed what he is, Bardsley was injured an Eden a few minutes after being injured that way, put the ball out. I wouldn’t do it for a guy who kicked me a few minutes before! The kid is a fantastic kid.’
On Bardsley’s tackle
‘From my position and in a flash, it looks for me a red card, but I don’t know. What I know is that if it was a bad tackle, it was the only one. The game was clean, it was good. The game was aggressive but it was good. The referee kept the game under control and the players were fair. There were good fights, physicality, lots of duels but the game was clean and if it was a red card it was an isolated action.’
On Terry, who scored in his 15th successive season
‘He’s very dangerous at set-pieces. He’s a very good player and in the air. When he is on the pitch he is always a threat, but more importantly for me is the way he is playing this season. When I came here last season he was a bit in trouble, his career was a bit up and down and not playing regularly for Chelsea.
‘Now in the last two years he is playing every game, and for me the same level from 2004-2007 when I was here.
‘I think he adapts well to our training methodology, it’s a good way for a person with his body type to feel sharp and fast and in good condition. After that it’s happiness.
‘When you’re happy and confident it’s easier in any job. He knows the way I trust him, and he feels confident and happy and he’s playing very well.’
On the Christmas schedule, with this the first of four games in 10 days
‘It’s very difficult. I have lots of respect for the players in this country. The moment they play in this country I respect them a lot.
‘At this moment the German guys are on the beach, the Spanish guys are in the Maldives getting sun, and in this country you play this day, Boxing Day, the 28th. There is no Christmas, just football. And the supporters give their respect because every match is sold out.’