Goals: Kalou 3, Lampard 2 (1 from a penalty), Malouda 1, Sturridge 1.
We play Liverpool next week before United take on Sunderland. I wish our match was the later one, as United will beat Sunderland, but we play our best football when we are second on the table and have it to play for, as opposed to having it to lose as the case will be.
It's interesting, I have a lot of Liverpool friends. They have told me that they will, much to their absolute shock, be supporting Chelsea next week, as a loss to us means far less to them than a title win for United. They have also told me this is the first time in their lives they have ever supported the team playing against Liverpool. Strange days indeed.
So back to the Stoke game.
I was sitting at the bar as our starting formation came on to the screen, a 4-4-3 line up, with Drogba, Anelka and Kalou across the front. I sent out a text with this information and the addition of "I LIKE THIS!!!". This is what a forward 3 look like, not Joe Cole, Drogba and Malouda! Had we had this front line last week I honestly believe we would have beaten Sp*rs and be a very good chance at the title.
For the first 15 minutes it looked as though it was going to be a real arm wrestle, much like our match with them earlier in the season where it took a 93rd minute goal from Frank Lampard to give us a 2-1 win. The referee, Steve Bennett was doing his job well, with only one free kick not being given when it should have. Stoke's defender and captain Faye Ab was taken off in the first 10 minutes with an injury, though their back line remained strong.
Suddenly the tide changed and the goals started coming. Kalou's first goal seems to have caused some controversy post-match, with suggestions that he enacted a two footed challenge on Stoke goalkeeper Sorenson, causing him to dislocate his elbow. I have watched the replay over and over with a friend who is Danish (and a Liverpool supporter) and was concerned about his ability to play in the Danish World Cup team in the World Cup and neither us saw anything untoward in the incident. There have been claims that the goal should have been disallowed and Kalou sent off, but the injury causing contact was the Stamford Bridge pitch and you can't send a ground off. Sorenson is a great keeper, in fact he is in my fantasy team and seeing the fans of both teams give him a standing ovation as he was carried from the pitch brought a tear to my eye. The referee made the right call and I am thankful that we had Steve Bennett refereeing and not Phil Dowd or Mark Clattenburg because with ether of them the call may well have been incorrect!
Kalou went on to score a well deserved hat-trick. Post match the camera showed him almost begging with official to give him the match ball. He was so wide eyed he looked like a kid at Christmas and then the pride with which he showed it to the camera made my heart melt :). I commented some months ago that there were rumours that Kalou is to be sold. I opposed it then and I now hope the Chelsea board and Roman oppose it now. Not only has this kid got loads of talent that will develop, he has a team brain and he would throw himself in front of a truck for Chelsea having spent 6 months on the bench. He is a future legend, mark my words!
Sturridge scored his first Premier League goal, having, surprisingly perhaps, been substituted for Anelka. I say "surprisingly" because while he wasn't having a great game, Anelka was doing his job as the forward who pushes forward and I would have expected Ancelotti to rest Drogba and not Anelka for the final few minutes ahead of next week's clash with Liverpool.
Malouda had opportunities that could have contributed to this game ending 10-0. He did, thankfully for him, finally get a goal. Drogba and Anelka however did not. Strange, a 7-0 result in our favour where neither main striker scored.
I also watched the United and Sp*rs match. At first I was optimistic that there was no Rooney. However I was then left scratching my head as to why 'arry had decided to take a defensive approach to United. Gareth Bale playing the role of a defender? WTF??? United's back line aren't extraordinarily strong and Sp*rs could have easily gone into a head to head shoot out and possibly won, giving us a well deserved break.
Well, destiny is in our hands. 3 wins will see us take the double (League and FA Cup). We are at our best, the best team in the competition, but we lack consistency, both from the players and the management and this may well cause this the year that could have been. We are too hot and cold and we lack a manager that can react to this as we go along, preferring to make his plan pre-match and stick with it come what may.