Chelsea finished the year in style with a 5-0 win over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge, in one of the most one-sided game we have seen so far this season.
Eden Hazard was benched ahead of a busy January schedule, starting with an away game at Arsenal on January 3rd.
Andreas Christensen was not quite ready to start yet, following his illness in midweek, so captain Gary Cahill kept his place at the heart of our defence.
It took Chelsea just three minutes to take the lead, when Victor Moses was brought down for a free-kick on the right wing. Willian crossed the ball invitingly for Antonio Rüdiger, who headed the ball past Jack Butland.
Stoke were incredibly poor in the opening minutes and gave away another goal six minutes later – although this time, there wasn’t much their defence or goalkeeper could have done.
The ball dropped for Danny Drinkwater on the edge of the box, and Chelsea’s summer signing delicately struck it on the half volley to find the top right corner. His first goal for the club was something worth remembering.
Alvaro Morata, who enjoyed a frustrating afternoon in front of goal, missed a clear opportunity with quarter of an hour played.
Goal number three did come after 23 minutes, when Pedro found the bottom corner with one of his trademark strikes from the edge of the area. Chelsea were toying with Stoke and fully deserved to be 3-0 up.
That half-time score looked very familiar, with Chelsea also leading Stoke 3-0 at the break seven years ago. Back then, the Blues went on to score another four in the second half. Would history repeat itself?
Stoke had their first big chance of the game in the 50th minute after a lapse of concentration in Chelsea’s back line. Saido Berahino raced through on goal, but had his shot saved by Thibaut Courtois – the first save he had to make up until that point.
Conte made his first substitution just before the hour-mark, replacing Victor Moses with Davide Zappacosta.
Morata missed another one-on-one chance minutes later, and it was clear that it just wasn’t his day.
It was the Spaniard who came off for Michy Batshuayi with 15 minutes to play, while Timeoue Bakayoko replaced N’Golo Kante.
Stoke’s day went from bad to worse when Geoff Cameron gave away a silly penalty, which Willian calmly slotted home to make it 4-0 to Chelsea.
The Blues still weren’t done, though, and with two minutes left to play in normal time, Davide Zappacosta made it five with a brilliant strike from distance.
Stoke could have no complaints about the final scoreline. Rarely has there been a more one-sided game at Stamford Bridge in recent years, and Chelsea deservedly ended the year with another three points in the bag.
Chelsea (3-5-2): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill (c), Rüdiger; Moses (Zappacosta 56′), Kante (Bakayoko 65′), Drinkwater, Alonso; Willian, Morata (Batshuayi 71′), Pedro
Unused subs: Caballero, Christensen, Fabregas, Hazard
Scorers: Rüdiger 3′, Drinkwater 9′, Pedro 23′, Willian (pen) 73′, Zappacosta 88′
Booked: Pedro 52