Chelsea overcame Stoke to lift themselves, at least temporarily, level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal in the Premier League. And that is where the good news ends for the West London side.

In caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo's first Premier League game in charge, Chelsea put in a hugely lackluster performance that saw them toil to put away a Stoke side that were reduced to 10 men after only 25 minutes.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis will be furious with the manner in which his side lost their numerical equality. Striker Ricardo Fuller bundled over the leg of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic before blatantly stamping on the Serbian.

The referee had no hesitation in giving Fuller his marching orders. Fuller's indiscretion damaging a Stoke side that up to that point had looked extremely comfortable dealing with what little threat Chelsea had posed.

With Didier Drogba cutting a lonely figure up front and with little creative spark coming from a midfield that featured Frank Lampard, the man who the sacked Andre Villas-Boas notoriously tried to fade out of the side, it looked like Stoke may be able to hold out for the full 90 minutes.

But Chelsea were finally able to get the breakthrough in the 68th minute. And it was no surprise that the catalyst for the goal was Juan Mata, who was surprisingly left on the bench before coming on late in the first half.

Mata again demonstrated the threat he can pose playing in the hole behind the forwards, supplying an inch-perfect through ball to create the opening. Didier Drogba was the recipient of the pass and the Ivorian calmly rounded Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, before rolling the ball into the empty net.

The goal was of particular significance to Drogba, as it was his 100th in the Premier League. He may be turning 34, but with Fernando Torres still a shadow of his former self, Drogba remains Chelsea's most dangerous front man. Though, how much this says about Drogba and how much it reflects Chelsea's lack of planning is another matter.

Much improvement is needed if Chelsea are to avoid the ignominy of missing out on Champions League soccer for the first time since Roman Abramovich started to pump his massive wealth into the club.

C-S by footyroom