Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Sunday, 26 January
Kick-off: 15:30 GMT
It’s the fourth round of the FA Cup and a visit from Stoke this afternoon, because apparently there is a bit more going on in football this week than Juan Mata’s move to you know who.
The Potters beat us last time we played them and the smugness from Mark Hughes was nothing short of nauseating. That was at home though, where Stoke were becoming increasingly hard to beat. At Stamford Bridge, teams don’t get it quite so easily with Jose Mourinho around, so we’ll have to hope the smile is knocked off the former Chelsea player’s face this afternoon.
Going into this afternoon’s tie, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says “We lost against them and it wasn’t a long time ago. ‘They are a difficult team, very physical, very direct, strong at set pieces and they will come to compete. I expect a difficult match. I will play with a strong team and not make big changes because we want to go as far as possible in the competition.”
Stoke boss Mark Hughes meanwhile, says “Yes, we take confidence from the fact we have already beaten them, albeit that wasn’t at Stamford Bridge and historically Stamford Bridge under (Jose) Mourinho is a difficult place to get a result. Hopefully, it will prey on their mind somewhat, and there certainly won’t be any apprehension about what we have got to try and do.
They are on a great run at the moment and they have the capacity to continue that until the end of the season. It’s not an easy tie by any stretch of the imagination, but we are going there to have a go. We will try and set a marker down and see where that takes us. Obviously they’ve got an embarrassment of riches. But on the day, in the cup, anything can happen.”
For Chelsea, van Ginkel remains a long term absentee and Fernando Torres (knee) also misses out. And whilst Demba Ba might get a start, Michael Essien and Juan Mata won’t even be on the Chelsea bench.
For Stoke, John Guidetti will be assessed having felt ill on Friday, while Robert Huth (knee) and Andy Wilkinson (heel) remain unavailable. Asmir Begovic (finger) is in contention and Kenwyne Jones could be recalled.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Schwarzer; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Matic; Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard; Ba.
STOKE (Possible line-up): Butland; Cameron, Shawcross, WIlson, Pieters; N’Zonzi, Palacios; Walters, Ireland, Assaidi; Guidetti.
Stoke 3-2 Chelsea (7th December 2013)
Chelsea have won the FA Cup 7 times now, whilst Stoke were beaten finalists in 2011 but having beaten us last month, Stoke will be looking to do the double over us in this game, FA Cup or not. The Potters will have to bear in mind though, we’ve had nine wins and a draw in the league since that defeat – although as the Stoke manager romanticised ahead of the game….this is the FA Cup and anything can happen.