No team relishes playing at the Britannia Stadium and today it was Chelsea’s turn to play Stoke City away from home.
Antonio Conte’s side knew they’d need to be at the best to come away with all three points, and they take the lead on the 13th minute thanks to a smart free-kick from Willian.
The Brazilian winger shaped to cross but brilliantly bent the ball around Stoke’s two-man wall - aided by Ramadan Sobhi’s embarrassing display of cowardice by turning his back - and the shot beat Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant at his near post.
You could argue that the goal should have been prevented. Sobhi should have been braver in the wall and Grant shouldn’t be getting beaten at his near post, but take nothing away from the strike.
Marcos Alonso, Chelsea’s left wing-back, was the player responsible for winning the free-kick and is subsequently awarded the assist - but it turns out Diego Costa played an even more important role in Willian’s goal.
Costa did something very clever...
Well, footage has emerged - per 101 Great Goals - which appears to show Costa shouting over to Willian before the free-kick is taken.
101 Great Goals claim Costa told Willian to ‘Shoot!’ in Portuguese after spotting Grant wasn’t covering his near post. The English goalkeeper obviously expected, like most other people inside the Britannia, that Willian would float a cross into the packed penalty area.
Costa’s tactical instructions worked like a charm and Chelsea deservedly took the lead.
Watch: Costa tells Willian to shoot
Watch: Willian scores from the free-kick
Stoke equalised before half-time
However, the Blues went into the break all square after conceding a Jonathan Walters penalty in the 38th minute.
A victory today would see Chelsea move 13 points clear ahead of second-placed Tottenham, who face Southampton at White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon.
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