Ashley Cole’s goal six minutes from time, on what was a difficult, nervy afternoon at Stamford Bridge, cemented our place at the top of the Premier League table, as we overcame a spirited Stoke City side 1-0.
While there could be no faulting the effort of a young Chelsea side, for long spells it looked as though we would have to be content with a second successive league stalemate, ensuring manager Roberto Di Matteo was understandably delighted as he reflected on a hard-fought victory.
On the performance
‘It was a very good performance, the whole team expressed themselves very well, after a Champions League game you can sometimes be physically and emotionally drained, there is always a little bit of concern, but we started very brightly,’ said the Italian.
‘The second half started really well, we were creating chances and opening them up a bit more. I thought it was a question of time.
‘When you play against Stoke it’s always hard to break them down, they defend with so many men, if you get an early goal it helps your game massively but if you don’t, it becomes hard work to try to find spaces.’
On John Terry and Frank Lampard starting on the bench
‘It’s just utilising the squad, we have some good players, a good squad, we just wanted to bring some fresh players in. We’ve done it many times before and will continue to do so because we play so many games.
‘The guys have played a lot of games already and we’ve got so many more to come, so using the squad is very important for us. You don’t want to get to November and be burned out.
‘Since I’ve taken over I’ve rotated and used the squad. They [Terry and Lampard] are fantastic, two leaders who lead by example, when they are out they support the team and support me, it’s a pleasure for me to have players like that in the team.’
On Oscar’s booking
‘I don’t think Oscar’s was a dive, there was contact, maybe the referee thought there wasn’t enough contact but he shouldn’t have booked him from my point of view.
‘It’s a difficult role the referees have, and the assistants, sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong. We are disappointed that they missed some of our penalties in the last few games, but if you ever try to be a referee, it’s very difficult.’
On playing Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata in the same side
‘It’s the first time we have tried it, it certainly needs more work and practice, to tactically integrate them into our system.
‘I thought today it worked very well, but it will take time for them to know each other better. I want them to have mobility and rotation, they are very intelligent at finding free space, we lacked a bit of width at times so we needed our full backs to provide us with that.’
On Victor Moses
‘He came on against Queens Park Rangers, and again today. He probably has a good chance to start in the next game. It’s a good chance for us to introduce some of our new signings. We signed him in the last couple of days of the transfer window and then it was the international break, so it’s not like he’s been with us for a long time.’