STOKE-ON-TRENT (AFP) – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hailed his side’s 2-0 Premier League victory at Stoke City as one of their most significant yet this season.
A second minute header from John Terry and Cesc Fabregas’ finish in the second half gave the Londoners a three point lead at the top of the table over over Manchester City at Christmas.
But it was the manner of the victory that pleased Mourinho the most with Chelsea forced to win a physical battle.
“To win here we must play a very good game and we did it because we adapted well to their style of play,” he said.
“When we had the ball we tried not to lose our identity and play our game.
“They are always strong in this stadium, the crowd are always behind them. They have good players and a good bench. It was a very difficult victory.
“It was a victory that means a bit more than the three points. It was not just difficult but you need more than just your quality to win here.
“The players coped well with the difficult style and were not afraid to have responsibilities and our creative players were not afraid to assume the game.
“Our defensive players were very solid. Only with a great team performance was it possible to beat Stoke.”
Mourinho saluted captain Terry who scored in the Premier League for a 15th consecutive season.
“He is very dangerous in set piece, he is very good player in the air, he is always a threat,” he said.
“More importantly is the way he has been playing this season again. When I came here last year he was in a bit of trouble, his career was a bit up and down. He was not playing regularly for Chelsea.
“But suddenly in the last two years he is playing basically every game and for me at the same level as when I was here 2004-2007.
“It’s just our way of work. He adapted well to our training methodology with his body type.
“He feels sharp and fast in good conditions. He is happy and when you are happy and feel confident it feels easier in every job. Football is very specific on that. He knows I trust him and is very confident and playing very well.”