EPL: Fabregas fires as Chelsea stay table-toppers for Christmas
Inspired by Spaniard’s performance, Blues beat Stoke City 2-0 to ensure they stay three points clear atop EPL standings during Christmas
London: Chelsea will spend Christmas three points clear at the top of the English Premier League after they regained the cushion with a 2-0 win at Stoke.
Cesc Fabregas proved a key influence once again for the Blues, providing the corner from which John Terry converted a second-minute header and then notching a goal himself in the 78th minute, teed up by another impressive performer in Eden Hazard.
Jose Mourinho’s side could have had more goals, with Diego Costa failing to finish a couple of good opportunities, and were generally very much in control throughout this contest, showing their ability to cope with an at-times combative Stoke outfit on a chilly Monday night at the Britannia Stadium.
Chelsea had memorably faltered here last season, being beaten 2-3 by Mark Hughes’ team, whose previous home game earlier this month saw them defeat Arsenal by the same score.
The Blues had also suffered a loss — their first of 2014/15 — in their previous away league match, a 2-1 reverse at Newcastle.
Early lead for Blues
But they had no such problems on this occasion, securing the victory they needed to put breathing space once more between them and second-placed Manchester City.
They raced into the early lead when Fabregas — registering yet another assist for the campaign — swung in a corner and Terry got the better of Geoff Cameron to head in his first Premier League goal since December 2013.
Mourinho’s men finished the first half looking comfortable, and that continued after the break, although they were unable to make the net bulge again.
Chelsea made the game safe 12 minutes from time when the ball came to Fabregas in the box from Hazard and the Spaniard took one touch before seemingly scuffing a shot that deceived Begovic to roll in. Begovic came out moments later to deny Costa from making it 3-0.
12: Number of assists Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas has racked up
9: No of assists Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini have between them