No Jose Mourinho on the touchline but same result for Chelsea as the Premier League champions lost 1-0 at Stoke on Saturday to an acrobatic Marko Arnautovic goal. The result was Chelsea third straight defeat in the league defeat, and leaves them two places above the relegation zone.
Despite the result this was one of Chelsea’s better performances of the season. In continuity with their mid-week win over Dynamo Kyiv, Chelsea produced a lively first-half display and went close when Diego Costa forced Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland to save with his legs.
But they fell behind eight minutes into the second half when Glen Johnson’s cross was inadvertently helped on by Jon Walters to Arnautovic, who volleyed in superbly at the far post. Pedro Rodriguez hit the post and Eden Hazard put a shot inches wide as Chelsea pushed for a leveler, and then the Blues were denied a clear cut penalty when Loic Remy hurdled Butland late on, and put his shot wide, while trying to stay on his feet.
Elsewhere, Jesse Lingard’s first Manchester United goal inspired his side to a 2-0 win over West Brom that left Louis van Gaal’s team a point behind leaders Man City. United had ended a 404-minute goal drought against CSKA Moscow in mid-week, but once again they labored, dominating possession but rarely threatening the Albion goal,
Ahead of United in the table is Leicester City, who won 2-1 at home to Watford as Jamie Vardy became the first English player to score in nine successive Premier League games and left him within one game of former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record.
West Ham United failed to make ground on the leaders after a 1-1 draw at home to Everton, who levelled through Romelu Lukaku after Manuel Lanzini had put the hosts ahead with a fine, bending effort on the half-hour.
Newcastle United climbed out of the relegation zone at Bournemouth’s expense after a a 27th-minute Ayoze Perez strike and a string of saves by goalkeeper Rob Elliot earned them a smash-and-grab 1-0 win at Dean Court.
Sunderland remain in the bottom three, four points from safety, after losing 1-0 at home to Southampton, who prevailed courtesy of Dusan Tadic’s 69th-minute penalty.
But Norwich City pulled away from danger, climbing above Chelsea and Newcastle after Jonny Howson’s 70th-minute tap-in gave Alex Neil’s men a 1-0 home win over Swansea City.