5 Reasons Why Chelsea's Victory Against Stoke City Showed They Can Win the EPL
Chelsea achieved a narrow victory over Stoke City this weekend, thanks to a late goal by Ashley Cole.
It was a messy victory, but a victory nonetheless.
In fact, the way Chelsea struggled has caused some to question their title credentials. After all, what we witnessed was a Chelsea team five minutes away from a 0-0 draw at home to inferior opposition.
However, what could also be seen was a Chelsea team that, while not playing their best, could still scrape by with a win.
And that is exactly the kind of team that wins titles.
Here are five reasons why the defeat of Stoke shows that Chelsea can go on to win the Premier League this season:
A Win Is a Win
It has been said many times that teams who play poorly but still come out with three points are also the teams that win championships.
If that is true, Chelsea looked like a championship-winning side against Stoke.
It might not have been pretty, but the win ensured that Chelsea remained top of the Premier League table after the first five games.
It is also the exact type of league match that the Chelsea of last season would have seen end in a draw, or even a loss.
They may not have the best record at Stamford Bridge in recent years, but Stoke is no easy team to beat. Organized and stalwart, Stoke did not make it easy for Chelsea to break through with a goal.
But break through they did, and they remain on track to win the Premier League.
Ashley Cole's Goal Showed That Anyone on This Team Can Score
With the exit of Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, Chelsea was left with limited options up front, with Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge being the only remaining out-and-out strikers.
This has left a majority of the goalscoring duties up to the rest of the team, especially when Torres has a game like he did against Stoke.
Considering his record, Ashley Cole is not anything near what we might call an attacking threat.
But what he showed with his goal is that the Blues are players on every part of the pitch who can chip in with a goal if necessary.
This could be especially vital if Torres descends back into the stark loss of form he suffered from last season.
Chelsea Won Without John Terry
In recent years Chelsea has relied upon John Terry to organize the defense. Any matches he missed have ended with a chaotic defense and easy goals conceded.
But Terry will not be around forever, and, at 31, his years are starting to show. He may also be subject to a ban sometime in the near future, pending the decision of his FA hearing.
If Chelsea is to win the League this season, they will have to do some of it without the help of the captain.
Against Stoke, Terry did not start, and did not even come on until the 88th minute to see out the win.
It was not the Blues' most accomplished defensive display, but it was one that ended with a clean sheet and a victory.
Gary Cahill and David Luiz may be the solid defensive pairing that will protect Chelsea's future.
And with Luiz signing a new five-year contract, that is good news for Chelsea fans.
Chelsea Won with a Clean Sheet
Another clean sheet against Stoke means that it is four shutouts in five Premier League matches this season. In fact, only two goals have passed Petr Čech and the Chelsea defense in the league so far this season.
Čech cannot take all the credit for this, as Stoke had just three on-target attempts. However, each clean sheet brings more confidence to the defense, and to the goalkeeper himself.
If Čech keeps it up, he will be able to reclaim his title as the world's best shot stopper, as well as adding valuable points to Chelsea's title challenge.
There Is Real Depth in This Squad
Last season, Juan Mata was perhaps Chelsea's only creative player. This season, there is an abundance of such players.
As a result, Mata has yet to make a big impact this season. That is, until today's match against Stoke.
This win showed that not only Mata can still make his mark on the season, but that Chelsea has incredible strength in depth. In the past two matches, we have seen both Mata and Oscar get their seasons underway after successful squad rotations by Roberto Di Matteo.
Such rotation will be vital if Chelsea makes a solid run into the Champions League and FA Cup tournaments.
When Chelsea was struggling to break through the Stoke defense, Di Matteo brought Frank Lampard and Victor Moses off of the bench, both of whom had impacts on the game.
There is not as much depth up front, but with the attacking midfield options available for Di Matteo, this should not matter.
With the depth and skill this squad possesses, combined with a few January additions, Chelsea should be a major title contender come May.