Benitez warned Chelsea new boys ahead of Stoke victory

Rafael Benitez made sure the likes of Eden Hazard and Cesar Azpilicueta knew what to expect when Chelsea travelled to Stoke City in the Premier League, the Guardian has reported.

The Blues ran out 4-0 winners thanks to a brace of Jonathan Walters own goals, a Frank Lampard penalty and a long-range strike from Hazard, but before the match the interim manager made sure Chelsea’s players – particularly those who had never visited Stoke before – were fully aware of what Stoke’s game plan was likely to be.

Benitez said after the match: “We had to try to explain to some of the players what they could find here. We told them they would get a physical game against a team with a clear idea of how they want to play. We watched clips, saw what we had to do and the response was really good.

Chelsea had Azpilicueta and Hazard playing for the first time at Stoke’s ground, with it being the first time the former had come up against a Tony Pulis side and only a second time for the latter.

In the first, at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, Hazard was withdrawn after an hour with the game goalless, Ashley Cole eventually breaking the deadlock with only five minutes remaining.

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