skip to content
Ashley Cole challenges Jonathan Walters unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Jermaine Pennant from right wing, clearance made by John Terry.
Didier Drogba is ruled offside. Asmir Begovic takes the indirect free kick.
Jonathan Woodgate concedes a free kick for a foul on Didier Drogba. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Didier Drogba. Shot from long distance by Ramires misses to the left of the goal.
Nicolas Anelka is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Asmir Begovic takes the free kick.
Jose Bosingwa takes a shot. Blocked by Yossi Benayoun. The referee blows for offside against Yossi Benayoun. Asmir Begovic takes the indirect free kick.
Yossi Benayoun on for Fernando Torres.
Foul by Mikel on Dean Whitehead, free kick awarded. The referee books Frank Lampard for dissent. Free kick taken by Robert Huth.
(Stoke) makes a substitution, with Ryan Shotton coming on for Kenwyne Jones.
Shot from outside the box by Alex goes wide right of the target.
Robert Huth crosses the ball, Petr Cech makes a save.
Unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones by Alex results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Jermaine Pennant from left channel, clearance by John Terry.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Danny Pugh on Ramires. Shot comes in from Didier Drogba from the free kick, save by Asmir Begovic.
Marc Wilson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jose Bosingwa. Marc Wilson shown a yellow card. Frank Lampard restarts play with the free kick.
Corner taken right-footed by Frank Lampard to the near post, Kenwyne Jones makes a clearance.
The referee blows for offside. Asmir Begovic restarts play with the free kick.
Mikel takes a shot.
Glenn Whelan takes a shot. Save made by Petr Cech.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Robert Huth on Nicolas Anelka. Didier Drogba replaces Salomon Kalou. Frank Lampard produces a cross, Alex takes a shot. Asmir Begovic makes a save.
Nicolas Anelka takes a shot. Save made by Asmir Begovic. Salomon Kalou takes a shot. Asmir Begovic makes a save.
Danny Pugh is brought on as a substitute for Rory Delap.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Ashley Cole. Asmir Begovic takes the free kick.
Shot from 20 yards by Jermaine Pennant. Ashley Cole gets a block in.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jermaine Pennant by Ashley Cole. The referee books Ashley Cole for unsporting behaviour. Free kick taken by Asmir Begovic.
Florent Malouda goes off and Nicolas Anelka comes on.
Shot by Florent Malouda from 30 yards. Save made by Asmir Begovic.
Matthew Etherington goes off and Dean Whitehead comes on.
Fernando Torres takes a shot. Blocked by Matthew Etherington.
Drilled left-footed shot by Florent Malouda. Blocked by Ryan Shawcross.
Kenwyne Jones takes a shot. John Terry gets a block in.
Alex challenges Kenwyne Jones unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jermaine Pennant takes the direct free kick.
Florent Malouda takes a outswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, John Terry takes a shot. Mikel takes a shot. Asmir Begovic makes a save. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Florent Malouda, clearance made by Kenwyne Jones.
Ramires produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes wide left of the goal.
Florent Malouda takes a shot. Blocked by Jonathan Woodgate. Corner taken left-footed by Florent Malouda from the left by-line, save made by Asmir Begovic.
Salomon Kalou takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Shawcross.
Effort from just outside the area by Glenn Whelan goes over the bar.
Foul by Glenn Whelan on Frank Lampard, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Frank Lampard.
Effort from inside the area by Fernando Torres misses to the left of the goal.
Corner taken by Matthew Etherington from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Florent Malouda.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jonathan Woodgate on Fernando Torres. Frank Lampard takes the direct free kick.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters by John Terry. Free kick crossed left-footed by Matthew Etherington from right wing, Mikel makes a clearance.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Fernando Torres. Asmir Begovic takes the indirect free kick.
Effort from outside the penalty area by Kenwyne Jones goes wide left of the target.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ryan Shawcross on Petr Cech. Petr Cech takes the free kick.
Corner taken right-footed by Jermaine Pennant from the left by-line, Ramires manages to make a clearance.
Corner from the left by-line taken by Jermaine Pennant, John Terry makes a clearance.
Unfair challenge on Marc Wilson by Ramires results in a free kick. Marc Wilson takes the free kick.
Rory Delap gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ramires. Jose Bosingwa takes the direct free kick.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Kenwyne Jones. The ball is swung over by Jose Bosingwa, Asmir Begovic makes a save. Jose Bosingwa restarts play with the free kick.
Robert Huth concedes a free kick for a foul on Florent Malouda. Frank Lampard delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, Rory Delap makes a clearance.
Salomon Kalou gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jermaine Pennant. Marc Wilson takes the direct free kick.
The ball is sent over by Florent Malouda.
Foul by Robert Huth on Fernando Torres, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by John Terry.
The ball is delivered by Jonathan Walters, save by Petr Cech.
Ramires gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones. Marc Wilson restarts play with the free kick.
The ball is delivered by Jermaine Pennant, Petr Cech makes a save.
Matthew Etherington fouled by Ashley Cole, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Asmir Begovic.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones by John Terry. Free kick crossed left-footed by Matthew Etherington, clearance by Jose Bosingwa.
Header from deep inside the penalty area by Robert Huth goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
Shot from just outside the area by Fernando Torres misses to the left of the target.
Foul by Ryan Shawcross on Fernando Torres, free kick awarded. Ryan Shawcross goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour. Free kick taken by Ashley Cole.
Frank Lampard takes the outswinging corner, John Terry challenges Asmir Begovic unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Asmir Begovic.
Jose Bosingwa takes a shot. Save made by Asmir Begovic.
Corner taken by Frank Lampard from the right by-line, clearance by Ryan Shawcross.
Corner from the left by-line taken by Jermaine Pennant, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Petr Cech by Robert Huth. Petr Cech takes the free kick.
Villas-Boas concedes midfield worries
Andre Villas-Boas has admitted Chelsea could be left short of cover in midfield if injury strikes Frank Lampard again this season.
Lampard was sidelined for three-and-a-half months last term, his absence coinciding with the Blues' worst run in the Barclays Premier League for almost 15 years.
The England star returned to help them go close to completing the greatest comeback in Premier League history, but they ultimately came up short and finished the campaign empty-handed.
Chelsea have already lost two midfielders before the start of this season, with Yury Zhirkov returning to Russia and Michael Essien ruled out for six months with a serious knee problem.
The man signed to fill the void, Oriol Romeu, is still on international duty with Spain at the Under-20 World Cup and may not be available for selection until next month.
Chelsea have also made two attempts to prise Luka Modric from Tottenham but so far without success.
And although Villas-Boas is happy with his squad going into his first competitive game in charge against Stoke on Sunday, he acknowledged resources could easily become stretched.
"We are struggling with numbers in midfield," he said.
"We have Oriol still away at the under-20s World Cup.
"He'll return late in August, so numbers are short."
Sunday's game is likely to see Chelsea line up with a three-man midfield of Lampard, Ramires and John Obi Mikel, with Josh McEachran as back-up.
Villas-Boas revealed he would also consider asking Yossi Benayoun or Florent Malouda to play more centrally if necessary.
"It's good enough for us that the people we have can play in those positions - we have a lot of versatility in midfield," he said.
"Florent Malouda and Yossi can play number eight or number 10, and that gives us flexibility.
"That's why we're happy with the squad running into the Stoke game.
"All have been playing at a high level.
"In midfield, everyone has been performing well."
While Chelsea may have a shortage of midfielders, the impending arrival of 18-year-old Romelu Lukaku from Anderlecht would give them a surplus of strikers.
That is where Villas-Boas' first big selection dilemma lies, with one of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres likely to be left on the bench at the Britannia Stadium.
Chelsea are optimistic Torres will be fit despite having suffered some memory loss after being concussed in Spain's friendly defeat in Italy on Wednesday.
But Drogba is favourite to start having impressed in pre-season, with the Ivorian also seeming better suited to Stoke's physical game.
Daniel Sturridge would almost certainly have lined up on the right side of attack in a 4-3-3 but for a three-match ban picked up in his final game on loan at Bolton last season.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis has ruled out the possibility of defender Matthew Upson making his Potters debut, with the former West Ham defender not yet ready for competitive action, But fellow new signing Jonathan Woodgate could feature.
Pulis is hopeful Rory Delap (hamstring) and Matthew Etherington (rib) will overcome niggles while Ricardo Fuller, Mamady Sidibe and Danny Higginbotham are long-term absentees.
Stoke will begin this Premier League season with the same aim they have had at the start of the previous three - to stay in the top flight.
Since their arrival in the Premier League in 2008, the Potters have gone from relegation favourites to a role model for promoted clubs.
Last season was the best yet, with a comfortable 13th-placed finish and a superb run to the FA Cup final, which brought with it European football.
Stoke have already made their mark in the Europa League, beating Hajduk Split over two legs to register the club's first ever victory in a European tie.
All this has been achieved under the shrewd guidance of Pulis, and he is determined there will be no complacency as they prepare for their opener against Chelsea.
"I think we have to be a little bit careful," said the Welshman. "The expectation levels go through the roof.
"We've had a fantastic run of success. It's been an upward curve now for nearly five years, and that's very unusual at any football club that you keep bettering what you've done year after year.
"I think the great thing about the football club is the supporters have enjoyed it so much but they remember what it's like in the Championship. They understand that our priority is to stay in the Premier League - that will always be the case.
"Yes, we're looking to push on but there are some fantastic clubs and fantastic teams that we have to compete against.
"Managing expectations at football clubs now is almost as difficult as managing the players on the pitch but you learn and you have to get on with it."
Villas-Boas endures stern Potters examination
New Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas' introduction to the Barclays Premier League proved to be a testing and frustrating affair as his side were held to a goalless draw at Stoke.
The Portuguese may have raced to the league title with Porto and also won the Europa League last season but nothing could have prepared him for the challenge he met at the Britannia Stadium.
Having withstood considerable pressure in the first half Chelsea dominated after the break but the closest they came was when goalkeeper Asmir Begovic tipped Nicolas Anelka's shot onto the crossbar.
If Villas-Boas was under any illusion about how tough English football was then he was given a typical example by Tony Pulis' terrier-like Potters.
It was not necessarily the physicality of the challenge Stoke presented but more the incessant pressure which they put their opponents under.
There was no respite, no time for players to linger on the ball and certainly no way anyone could switch off for a second as the Potters were relentless from the first whistle.
A Rory Delap throw and a couple of Jermaine Pennant corners caused some early consternation in Petr Cech's penalty area and set-pieces continued to cause problems throughout.
Late in the first half Jose Bosingwa and Cech managed to keep out Matt Etherington's inswinging free-kick under the crossbar at the near post after John Terry had stopped Kenwyne Jones in his tracks.
Terry appeared to be the centre of everything, the ball bouncing off his shoulder after Jon Walters had flicked it over him and ending in a heap with Ryan Shawcross in the six-yard box as they tussled for a corner.
But for all their endeavours Stoke's attack could not match the quality of their opponents.
Villas-Boas firmly pinned his colours to the mast by naming Fernando Torres ahead of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka and he would have been encouraged to see the Spain international starting to show glimpses of the form he enjoyed at Liverpool.
One surging first-half run from the Spaniard, who has scored just once in 19 appearances since his #50million January transfer, was reminiscent of his Anfield heyday.
His body language looked more positive and after a full pre-season his fitness worries appear to be behind him.
He was the target for some close attention, with Stoke captain Shawcross booked in only the 10th minute for clattering the striker having missed with his first attempt.
Torres responded by dragging a low shot just wide and, in first-half injury time, bundling another off target under pressure from Shawcross.
But threats came from other areas and Salomon Kalou went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Glenn Whelan only for referee Mark Halsey to wave play on.
Bosingwa's cross-cum-shot was tipped behind by Begovic while Ramires' run and cross into the six-yard box failed to pick out a team-mate.
The tide turned after the break and Jonathan Woodgate, making his Premier League debut having left Tottenham in the summer, was a key figure in keeping Chelsea at bay.
First his slide diverted Frank Lampard's shot behind and then he blocked Torres six yards out as he swivelled to shoot from Terry's downward header.
Lampard was convinced he should have had a penalty when he went down under a challenge from Marc Wilson but the England midfielder looked to be heading to ground anyway.
Begovic was then called into action, tipping over a John Obi Mikel dipping volley and touching substitute Anelka's curling shot onto the woodwork before Kalou headed straight at the goalkeeper from eight yards as Chelsea continued to threaten.
It was Kalou's last involvement as he was replaced by Drogba with 15 minutes to go.
But even with their three front-line strikers on the pitch the visitors found their opponents as obdurate as ever and Torres eventually made way for Yossi Benayoun late on.
The result secured only Stoke's second point in seven league meetings.
At the age of 33 Villas-Boas has proved he is a quick learner. What he will have discovered after an afternoon at the Britannia is that the curve gets steeper from here on in.
© 2004 - 2015 football.co.uk