Stoke v CHELSEA: Preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venue: Britannia Stadium

Date: 7th December 2013

Kick-off: 15.00 GMT

Our game midweek brought a win over former Chelsea man Gus Poyet for Jose Mourinho, with Chelsea making hard work of it with the defence taking fourty winks at some inopportune moments. It wasn’t all bad though because the trip to Sunderland brought out the best in Eden Hazard, who undoubtedly had anyone who appreciates genuine talent salivating – and in spite of a bout of defensive hiccups, we still came away with a win.

This afternoon’s game brings another trip away and another battle against a former Chelsea man, with Mark Hughes’ Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. The Potters had a more subdued 0-0 midweek at home against Cardiff but Hughes will want to maintain Stoke’s resilient home form, as a bare minimum, against his former employers today.

 

MANAGER’S VIEW

Going into today’s game, Stoke manager Mark Hughes says “The one thing we’ve got going for us is our record at the Britannia. You always sense there’s a little bit of apprehension in opposition teams. The Britannia needs to be a really difficult place to come to, and for the most part it has been this season. To be able to get the crowd with us we have to give them something to cheer and we’ve got to get momentum in our play and have sustained pressure. If we can do that then Chelsea know it will be difficult for them. It’s a big test, obviously. At the moment they seem to be scoring lots of goals and have lots of options in terms of personnel. It’s very difficult to second guess which way they’ll go because they have any number of combinations of players that will cause you a problem. But the easy part is knowing that you’re going to be up against quality players that will test you.”
Whilst Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, on today’s opponents says “I think sometimes at a certain moment clubs have to care about style of play and the way you sell your product. They did well to change a philosophy that was getting points but not giving a future. They are a bit different, not so much, but they play better football and have kept many things from the past. It will be difficult, that’s for sure.”
Whilst on his own side following the midweek battle for points at Sunderland, Mourinho says “Stoke is difficult, they’re a very physical team and strong at set pieces, but I don’t think we are fragile in that area. We were analysing the three goals at Sunderland and we couldn’t find the real mistake. We could find the rebound, the second ball, the ball that hits somebody and goes in the direction of the opponent. For all three goals we were trying to find defensive positional mistakes in relation to the way we prepared for the game, but there was not one mistake. We know Stoke are strong in that aspect and we have to try to cope.”

 

SQUAD NEWS

For Stoke, Robert Huth (knee) remains out although Mark Hughes has no other injury worries.

For Chelsea, van Ginkel (knee) is a long term absentee, David Luiz (knee) will miss another week although Oscar (ankle) and Eto’o (hamstring) are expected to be available again.

 

TEAMS

STOKE (Possible line-up): Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Arnautovic, Nzonzi, Whelan, Adam, Assaidi; Crouch

CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Lampard; Willian, Mata, Hazard; Ba

 

LAST SEASON

Stoke 0-4 Chelsea (12th January 2013)

 

PREDICTION

Looking at some stats, Stoke haven’t beaten Chelsea in the league since 1975 and current league form has seen them fail to score in four of their last six home games.  Chelsea meanwhile, have won eight of the 10 Premier League games between the sides, drawing the other two, and Jose Mourinho himself, has never lost a league game as Chelsea manager in December.

Given that Stoke come into this game with just one win from 11, you’d imagine the result might be a forgone conclusion – that is, of course, if you hadn’t taken into consideration Stoke’s resilience at the Britannia giving them 5 draws from their last 7 at home.

A frustrating game ahead maybe?

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