Many were surprised when Stoke City beat Chelsea. However, this was not the first time that Chelsea have lost on the road after a complacent performance. Even though Chelsea were completely dominating the first half, they struggled to make the most of their chances, and let Stoke City back into the game.

The formations

 Stoke City started in a 4-3-3 formation. Ex-Barcelona player Muniesa started as left-back. Even though Charlie Adam was in the starting line-up, he gave way to Stephen Ireland after only 18 minutes due to an injury.

 Chelsea started in a 4-2-3-1 formation. John Obi Mikel started as the holding pair of Ramires. Azpilicueta started in the left-back position. Oscar was out of this game, Schürrle took his place in the central attacking midfielder position.

Schürrle's movement, Stoke's problems with build-up play

Schürrle gave Chelsea the lead in the 9th minute. He pulled away from Shawcross, and received a pass in the hole between the Stoke City midfield and defence. 
 Even though Shawcross tried to get close to Schürrle, he was too far away from him. Even worse, he was not in a set position when the German received the ball.
 As Schürrle dropped deep, the distance between him and Shawcross increased. This forced Shawcross to move towards Schürrle, while the German was dribbling at him, which is a helpless state to be in as a central defender, as you are likely to be slower in a one-on-one situation than your direct opponent. Schürrle had no problems with beating Shawcross, giving Chelsea the lead in the process.

 Schürrle, Mata and Ramires were the ones causing the most problems to the home team. Schürrle and Mata made reverse runs in the final third. On the other hand, Mata and Ramires exchanged positions vertically. Whenever Mata dropped into midfield, Ramires made a forward run, becoming the right attacking midfielder. 

 Muniesa found it especially hard to deal with such runs. He tracked Mata's runs closely, leaving his position. Space was opened behind him, which Schürrle made runs into. 

 Chelsea were dominating Stoke City's right side as well. Cameron and Walters struggled to bring out the ball, and were often dispossessed by Azpilicuata, who received additional cover from at least one Chelsea midfielder. Hazard could often get behind Cameron with these balls won high up the pitch. He had several chances to take on Shawcross one-on-one, but he usually passed on the opportunity, passing the ball back to midfield.
 Such instances showed what Chelsea's main problem was in the early stages of the game. Even though they got into dangerous positions, they were complacent, and not taking enough risks. They either didn't make the most of potentially rewarding situations, or missed the chances they had.  Chelsea were complacent, which had a major part to play in their loss. 

Stoke City switch to a more direct style

 It was interesting to see that Peter Crouch was not involved in the build-up play at all in the first half.
 It was even stranger that Stoke City tried to make Crouch play against Cahill and Terry in the centre. Both defenders are very good in the air. Even if Crouch drifted to the left to play against Ivanović, he was up against a full-back more than capable when it comes to aerial duels.
 It would have made more sense to ask Crouch to drop a bit deeper, and play against Mikel. Crouch could have been used as a wall passing option, or he could have pulled one of the defenders out of position, opening up space for Arnautović to run into.
 Mikel is not a classical holding midfielder, he played as an attacking midfielder prior to being signed by Chelsea. Targeting Mikel can be a successful strategy. Tottenham did this so successfully that Mikel was substituted after the first half at White Hart Lane.

 Even though Stoke City were poor in the first half, they equalised in the 42nd minute. Walters crossed to Ireland after receiving a long throw from Begović. He failed to connect, but Arnautović rescued the ball and won a corner, which Crouch scored from.
 The goal showed that Stoke could get into the final third only when they didn't try to bring out the ball with short passes, but played more directly. 

 Stoke City scored their second goal in the 50th minute. Walters won a duel against Azpilicueta to get on the end of Begović's long pass. Mikel failed to get back and cover the defence in the central area, giving Ireland the space and time to score. 
 This was the second Stoke goal after a long ball. 

 Even though Schürrle equalised on the half-volley only minutes after, Chelsea were far from convincing. As Stoke City played more long balls, their full-backs didn't have to push up with the attacks. Chelsea had less space in the final third as a result. 

 Oussama Assaidi was introduced for Jonathan Walters in the 84th minute. This substitution was both necessary, and a tactical move. Walters got involved in a couple of small brawls, so there was a risk of him getting sent off. On the other hand, Mikel was not on the pitch anymore, leaving Chelsea's back four completely exposed. Chelsea have left plenty of space in their own half as they were pushing for the winner.
 However, it was Stoke City who got the three points. Assaidi received the ball on the counter-attack, cut inside next to Ivanović, and scored an eye catching goal.


 Stoke City struggled to get out of their own half for the majority of the first 45 minutes. Chelsea had multiple chances, which they should have taken. However, they could have had more if they were sharper, and took more risks in the final third. Given how Stoke City struggled to bring out the ball, any risks taken by Chelsea in front of goal would have been of minimal negative consequence.

 The home side grew into the game once they switched to a direct style. Mourinho pushed for an equaliser at the end of the game, withdrawing Mikel from the team. The Chelsea defence became unprotected, which had a major part to play in Stoke City's win.


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