Chelsea's troubles continued to mount as they lost 1-0 to Stoke City in a physical yet engaging clash at the Britannia Stadium.
- Stoke City 1 Chelsea 0
- Arnautovic winner settles contest
- Mourinho missing due to stadium ban
- Chelsea sink closer to bottom three
- Pressure mounts on Blues' boss
The champions, who were deprived of manager Jose Mourinho as he served a stadium ban, put in a better performance than they have shown of late but had no answer to Marko Arnautovic's second half winner.
The result leaves Chelsea just three points above the Premier League relegation zone and will once again provoke speculation over Mourinho's future.
Stoke, buoyed by defeating Chelsea in the League Cup recently, started confidently but it was the visitors who began to take control, with midfielder Ramires proving an unlikely source of attacking threat.
First the Brazilian stabbed an effort wide after good work by Eden Hazard and Willian, and he then worked the in-form Jack Butland between the Stoke sticks with a brilliant dipping volley.
Next it was Diego Costa's turn to twice come close to breaking the deadlock. The former Atletico Madrid man was agonisingly close to connecting with a Hazard centre at the back post, and Butland was on hand again to save with his legs to keep out Costa from the edge of the box just before half time.
It was Stoke who eventually did grab the lead, though, and in such a tightly-contested game any lead always look likely to be a crucial one.
With 53 minutes on the clock, Glen Johnson was able to cross and Arnautovic was given the time and space to measure a scissor-kick finish at the far post after Jon Walters had made a nuisance of himself in the centre.
It arguably wasn't what they deserved, but all eyes were on Chelsea to see how Mourinho's beleaguered troops would respond and they did not shrink from the challenge.
Hazard quickly weaved some space for himself on the left before firing over the bar, but the real chance came with just nine minutes left when the Belgian failed to finish off a brilliant one-touch Chelsea move in the Stoke box.
The Blues were ultimately unable to haul themselves back level and the pressure will continue to build on Mourinho, who has now lost seven league games in a single season for the first time in his career.