It was a case of ‘welcome to the Premier League’ for Andre Villas-Boas on Sunday afternoon, with his Chelsea team frustrated by a committed Stoke side that put the reducers on the Blues in the first half before holding out for a point at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke were typically robust when it came to closing Chelsea players down, although Villas-Boas felt as though the home team’s tactics during set plays were over the top and called for an extra referee to be used so that shirt pulling and shoving could be clamped upon.
He said: “A point I want to make when you are playing difficult games like this one is the amount of pushing and grabbing in the box, because it’s out of this world.
“We are okay to deal with Stoke’s set plays and we were competent enough to avoid the dangers they cause. We know the amount of goals they score with these set plays. But I think there’s a limit to the pushing and grabbing, it makes it impossible.”
There were three penalty appeals by Chelsea during the second half of the goalless draw, with Frank Lampard seemingly tripped although Mark Halsey decided against pointing to the spot.