Chelsea Player Ratings vs. Stoke City

John Baines@@bainesyDiego10Correspondent IJanuary 12, 2013

Chelsea Player Ratings vs. Stoke City

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    It was another comprehensive away day for Chelsea as a pair of Jon Walters own-goals, a Frank Lampard penalty and an Eden Hazard strike brought the curtain down on Stoke City's 17-match unbeaten home run.

    The Blues had to be alert early on as the hosts steamed in. But after weathering the initial storm, Chelsea grew into the game and goals at convenient times turned the contest into a cruise.

    Individually and collectively, this was a massive improvement on the Swansea debacle, so let us look at who did what.

Petr Cech: 7.5

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    Ross Turnbull didn't do much wrong in deputizing Petr Cech, but Chelsea seemed a lot more assured with their Czech stopper behind the defence.

    The Blues had to endure a typical Stoke welcome in the opening exchanges and Cech looked commanding in dealing with the numerous balls slung into the box.

    He was quick off his line to force Kenwynne Jones to clip wide after seven minutes, and he was at full stretch to tip over a Steven N'Zonzi drive at 1-0.

    Constantly communicating with his back four, Cech's presence made the side feel safer. His form and fitness will be crucial over the second half of the season.

Cesar Azpilicueta: 7

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    Another industrious shift for the Spanish right-back whose forage forward in first-half injury time created the opening goal.

    He had to buckle down with the rest of the defence to begin with, but became an outlet when Chelsea found possession and worked his flank well.

    His output could improve. But overall it was another solid display from a player who is looking to be a very astute purchase.

Branislav Ivanovic: 7.5

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    He recovered from his midweek horror show to marshal the defence well throughout.

    Ivanovic went man for man on Kenwynne Jones, allowing David Luiz to sweep, and the Serbian did well to keep a lid on Stoke's in-form striker.

    He had to be on his guard after the interval as the hosts pressed and remained tuned in to see out a clean sheet.

    All in all, it was a fine response after Wednesday's personal disappointment.

David Luiz: 7.5

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    Pre-match rumours that David Luiz had shorn his famed locks proved to be false, and the Brazilian had no close shaves in a solid show.

    Gary Cahill's absence meant Luiz was shifted back from midfield to assist Ivanovic, and that duo coped ably in the face of some direct play.

    Luiz used the ball with composure once Chelsea got a grip and regularly brought the ball out to good effect.

    After a number of positive performances in midfield, it's reassuring to know Luiz can still do a decent job in his original berth.

Ashley Cole: 6.5

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    It was a typical Ashley Cole performance. He offered maturity in a time and circumstance when it was needed and gave next to nothing away across the duration.

    Cutting off Stoke's crosses at supply eased his duties in the centre, as Cole had little change to spare down his side.

    He still didn't cause enough problems for his opposite full-back. And although always neat and tidy, he too often looks to offload rather than making something happen.

    Defensively, there are few better. But the forward threat from Cole continues to subside.

Ramires: 7

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    Ramires is another player who recovered from the horror show against Swansea. 

    His energy was key to picking up many of the loose balls which inevitably were on display during a hard-fought first half.

    He didn't panic when Chelsea were being overrun early on and gradually won enough ball to ensure the Blues took hold.

    Like the whole team at the moment, Ramires looks most comfortable when sitting deeper and looking to spring. Again he drove forward with purpose when the chance arose and exploited space when the game became stretched.

    Ramires's passing and touch are too erratic when Chelsea are asked to control games in tight situations. He's one of the main culprits in poor home games.

    But on the road the Brazilian is a necessity. That observation should save one rotation problem.

Frank Lampard: 8

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    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Chelsea need Frank Lampard.

    It was only when he became involved after 20 minutes that Chelsea stemmed the flow of Stoke pressure going toward their goal.

    People say he can't play deep in midfield, but recent performances at two of the league's most arduous addresses would question that theory.

    Lampard exerted his class onto the game from midway through the first half, using the ball calmly as Chelsea sought to compose.

    Most of the Blues' best moves went through their stand-in skipper. The veteran midfielder capped off another assured display by blasting home a 65th-minute penalty.

Juan Mata: 6.5

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    This was another slightly off-key show from Juan Mata, who played well but lacked some of the spark he's shown all season.

    He struggled to find time and space early on, but became more prominent to use the ball with his usual wisdom.

    It was his corner that Stoke City's Walters nodded home, and the Spaniard was also fouled for Lampard's penalty.

    He settled into a nice rhythm as Chelsea bossed long periods of the second half. Upon reflection, my initial observation may have been harsh, as Eden Hazard and Frank Lampard took the creative emphasis off Mata's shoulders.

Eden Hazard: 8.5 (Man of the Match)

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    Like many of his colleagues, Hazard spent the opening quarter battling for loose balls. But once things became more civilised, the Belgian was a constant menace.

    Recent performances have only showed flashes of Hazard's class, but Saturday he involved himself much more in the proceedings, and that resulted in his best game in a while.

    After being involved in the opener, Hazard was the Blues' regular out ball on the break and he always looked like taking advantage.

    Drifting from one side to the other, Hazard was readily available and regularly underpinned some slick moves.

    He rounded off a fine afternoon by firing a 25-yard left-footer into the top corner.

Ryan Bertrand: 6

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    Bertrand was brought in to give more solidarity to the midfield and did a steady if unspectacular job.

    His distribution was poor during a mixed first half in which his commitment couldn't be questioned but his quality could.

    He didn't dovetail with Cole particularly well, either, but offered his left-back plenty of protection and used the ball better after the break. He's not a midfielder.

Demba Ba: 7

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    No goals, but Demba Ba won't suffer any of the consternation Fernando Torres does after putting in another energetic and enterprising shift.

    The Senegalese striker was a handful for the Stoke defence all afternoon, although chances were at a premium.

    Ba forced a save from Begovic after half an hour when he spanned and chased Lampard's clever through ball. Aside from that, he led the line well in an unselfish show.

    He also created a chance for Cole after making the most of a ball into the channel. Using Ba as an effective outlet allowed Chelsea's midfield roamers plenty of room to maneuver.

Fernando Torres: 6

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    Torres came on for Ba with 20 minutes to go and with Chelsea in the clear, but still never looked like getting on to the score sheet.

    Torres ran about, but it looked like a gesture rather than with any real purpose. as he couldn't take advantage of his side's dominance.

    Ba is undoubtedly Chelsea's first-choice striker. There are many facets of Torres' game that he needs to get up to scratch if he's going to challenge that mantle.

John Terry: 5

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    Terry ended a two-month injury layoff with a 10-minute cameo, notable only for a clumsy penalty trip on Jon Walters.

    Terry played 45 minutes for Chelsea's under-21s in midweek and he may need another run-out to get up to speed.

Paulo Ferreira: 10

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    He proved he was still alive by popping up for the final seven minutes. He still looks like a teenager.