9:58: Chelsea will sit atop the Premier League table on Christmas Day. Goals from John Terry and Cesc Fabregas have given them a hard-fought win at the Britannia Stadium where the only negative for them was an injury suffered to the excellent Eden Hazard in the dying minutes.


Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea

9:54: Brilliant from Bojan who suddenly springs into action, picking the ball up 25 yards out from goal before thumping a decent effort on goal that flies just wide of Courtois' post.

9:53: One last chance for Schurrle who bursts down the inside left flank. He has options over to his right but opts to shoot and only finds the waiting arms of Begovic.

9:52: Kurt Zouma looks to be coming on for the final few minutes, of which five have been added on.

9:50: That will leave a sour taste, Eden Hazard is down and looks to be in some discomfort. The Belgian had just burst away from Jon Walters but appeared to have his trailing leg caught (unintentionally) by the Irishman.

9:48: Drogba turns his man and has a go from 25 yards out, but no luck.

9:45: Assaidi, last season's match winner, is on and immediately stings the palms of Courtois, cutting in from the inside left before shooting across goal.

9:44: And with that, Costa's evening is over, with Didier Drogba coming onto replace him.

9:42: Costa passes up the chance to add a third. Andre Schurrle, off the bench a few moments ago to replace Willian, does brilliantly, nicking the ball away from his man on the edge of the box before sliding a perfectly weighted ball through to Costa who has peeled away from his man inside the left of the box. He opens his body up to place one past Begovic but it denied by the keeper.

9:37: Well, you won't find more to contrasting touches from Fabregas there. The Spaniard's first is wonderful, instantly bringing the ball under his control from a threaded pass played in from the right from Hazard. With Begovic rushing out his second touch is a fairly awful miss-kick, but has enough on it to see the ball roll past the Stoke goalkeeper. Chelsea will be top at Christmas, you would wager now.

Goal! Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea (Cesc Fabregas)

9:34: Arnautovic pops up just inside the left of the box and attempts to lift a first time cross over to the far post. It goes woefully wrong however.

9:29: Close from Adam! Chelsea fail to clear their lines and Stoke almost punish them as Nzonzi slips a pass infield to Adam who has popped up unmarked on the edge of the D. He tries to sweep one into the far corner but cuts across the ball too much and misses the target.

9:27: Charlie Adam tries to conjure some inspiration, lifting a decent ball in from deep into the path of Walters who has made a run down the inside right channel. There's just too much on the ball however and it sails out for a goal kick.

9:25: Bojan tries to jink his way into the box from the right buy Matic isn't having any of it as the Spaniard loses his footing as he tries to get past him. That's about all that has happened in the last few minutes.

9:21: Crouch nods away a Fabregas corner and that will be his last action of the evening, with Mame Biram Diouf coming onto replace him.

9:19: The exceptional Hazard swaps to the right and drops short to pick up a throw in. He jinks past Pieters with ease and whips a terrific ball across the face of goal but there's no one on the scene to convert the chance.

9:16: Costa again drives into the box but Stoke slam the door in his face. It breaks on the bounce into the path of Matic who attempts a spectacular half volley but slices it horribly and the chance goes.

9:14: Chelsea respond and Hazard again races into the box with Bardsley for company. He sidesteps and teases his way into the box and somehow gets a ball across to Fabregas at the near post but the Spaniard can't get enough on his flicked effort and Begovic saves.

9:11: Stoke cranking up the pressure now and Bojan gets involved in two neat moves that force the issue. The latter draws another corner but Chelsea survive.

9:09: Hazard again does excellently down the left, winning the ball in his own half before tearing across the field to prompt another attack. He eventually ships it wide to Willian via Fabregas but the Brazilian's cross is collected by Begovic.

9:06: Bojan neatly sidesteps Matic and frees on the onrushing Bardsley but his effort is deflected and Courtois manages to prevent the corner. Stoke get the ball back into the box but Crouch is unable to keep his header down.

9:04: And we are back underway for the second half. As it stands, Chelsea will be top at Christmas.


Stoke City 0-1 Chelsea

8:46: Fabregas again finds Costa with an excellent pass, but the striker still has a lot of work to do left two against one. His first touch is exceptional, but the next isn't, allowing Shawcross half a yard to get across and intercept with a decent sliding challenge.

8:42: It's all very comfortable for Chelsea at the minute. Stoke don't appear to have got a meaningful touch on the ball in a couple of minutes. Just over two minutes to the half remaining.

8:36: Hazard brings a halt to a Chelsea attack after he spots Bardsley down with an ankle problem and sporting knocks the ball out of play.

8:32: What a chance for Chelsea to add a second! Matic wins possessions back win an exceptional sliding tackle before shifting it to Fabregas who slides a through ball in for Costa. Ryan Shawcross has inexplicably decided to step up, leaving the Spaniard on side and with the goal at his mercy. He looks to shoot across goal from the left, looking for the bottom right corner but can''t find the accuracy and sends it wide.

8:29: Chelsea have regained a degree of control in the last few minutes.

8:24: What a chance for Chelsea to counter! Costa and Hazard race ahead of Fabregas to give the Blues a one man advantage but the Spaniard's measured through ball is accidentally blocked by referee Neil Swarbrick on the half way line!

8:22: After play is held up by all manner of pushing and shoving in the box, Stoke take their corner but Matic manages to clear. Moments later Walters again has a yard of space but his shot is again blocked before the away side clear.

8:21: Walters nearly sees his shot creep in! The Ireland international has space to cut across to the right of box and left fly with the shot, which takes a nick off John Terry. Courtois reacts however and palms it around the post.

8:19: Well, that was inevitable. Hazard gleefully dances down the left flank at pace but is stretching to keep the ball in play as Phil Bardsley comes to crash through him. It's a very ugly challenge and the Stoke defender is rightfully booked. Mourinho wants more.

8:16: Stoke have their first chance to fill the box from a corner but Courtois glides out of his box to easily pluck it out of the air and avert the danger.

8:14: Costa gets sandwiched between Nzonzi and Shawcross and is left reeling for a few minutes, but is okay to continue.

8:12: Stoke have improved a tad in the last few minutes, buy haven't given Chelsea anything to worry about just yet. Jon Walters wins a throw in deep in enemy territory and opts for a short, snappy one looking for Bardsley but a poor first touch sees the forward catch Hazard late.

8:07: Chelsea look a little bit up for this. The away side cut through Stoke with ease, with Diego Costa showing excellent footwork to drag the ball past his man before slipping through Hazard whose ahead of him in the box. The Belgian can't find the room for the shot and instead slips back to the Blues striker, who drags his effort wide of the post.

8:03: Chelsea lead! That resulting corner finds Terry who easily outjumps Geoff Cameron to thump a donwards header through a crowd of players and past Begovic.

John Terry

Goal! Stoke City 0-1 Chelsea (John Terry, 2)

8:01: First real chance of the game goes to Chelsea. Hazard dances down the inside left channel before switching the ball into the path of the onrushing Ivanovic. The Serbian thumps one towards goal but a deflection carries it wide for a corner.

7:57: And the teams have made their way out at the Britannia Stadium and we are almost ready to get underway.

7:40: Mark Hughes is fairly chuffed to have Bojan back in his side this evening. [via Sky Sports]

Bojan is a big part of what we are doing at the moment and if we can get him in key areas he can have a big impact for us. We've done really well - we had an exceptional first 60-70 minutes against Arsenal and we need to replicate that because Chelsea are the more accomplished side in most people's opinions at the moment. But we play well against the top sides and I expect that again.

7:27: It was Stoke City celebrating in this fixture last season when on-loan winger Oussama Assaidi struck a splendid late winner to give Stoke a 3-2 victory. That score line again this evening would certainly be a welcomed Christmas present for Mark Hughes, but it wouldn't be enough for Manchester City to grab top spot in time for 25 December. Chelsea must lose by two goals or more this evening to sink to second.


Stoke: Begovic; Bardsley, Shawcross (c), Muniesa, Pieters; Cameron, Nzonzi; Walters, Bojan, Arnautovic; Crouch

Subs: Butland, Huth, Whelan, Wilson, Adam, Diouf, Assaidi

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Mikel, Matic; Willian, Fabregas, Hazard; Diego Costa

Subs: Cech, Filipe Luis, Zouma, Ake, Oscar, Schurrle, Drogba

TEAM NEWS – Stoke City: Bojan and Marc Muniesa have both passed late fitness tests but Stephen Ireland has failed to make the cut with a knee problem.

TEAM NEWS – Chelsea: There are returns for Cesar Azpilicueta, Petr Cech and Cesc Fabregas this evening with Oscar dropping to the bench.

7:05: Stoke City have the opportunity to sour Chelsea's Christmas this evening and Mark Hughes' side have already proven this term they can stand toe to toe with the league's elite. A win over Manchester City at the Etihad in August and their hammering of Arsenal this month has contributed greatly to their cause, while they were unlucky not to share the points with Liverpool and Manchester United during their recent trips to Anfield and Old Trafford.

7:00: Who will be top at Christmas? Chelsea if they manage to not lose by two goals or more against Stoke City this evening. Take of the Blues' rampant title surge has been tempered thanks to the fine form of Manuel Pellegrini's side in recent weeks. Manchester City's run of six straight wins has them firmly back in the race, but does being top on Christmas morning mean all that much anyway? If you're Chelsea, it does.

The Blues have held top spot on 25 December on just three occasions in the 2004/05, 2005/06 and 2009/10 seasons and have gone onto to win the league in each of them. Furthermore, the side sat top in four of the last five seasons have been the ones celebrating the following May, with Liverpool bucking that trend last season.

Chelsea have won just one of their last four away games, but only a downright abysmal evening by their standards will see them drop to second at the Britannia Stadium this evening.