Stoke v CHELSEA: Preview

Venue: Britannia Stadium
Date: Monday, 22 December
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT

I’m not a fan of games on a Monday night, even less so when we’ve had to wait it out with City winning at the weekend and drawing level with us in the table. Not that we should be worrying what the opposition are doing necessarily but in terms of what we’re doing, we’ve let a pretty comfortable gap slip away to nothing – or at least it could be nothing unless we get a win tonight.
Our players will have to acknowledge that pressure alongside the knowledge that nothing is exactly what we came from this fixture with last season. Stoke meanwhile, who’ve given Arsenal and City a hard time already this season will throw everything at us in an effort to see history repeated at the Britannia.

Ahead of tonight’s game, Stoke manager Mark Hughes says “When we go up against so called bigger teams who are prepared to take chances against us, we have been able to exploit them. We have found it difficult against teams who come here and sit back.” Having already dismissed the idea that Chelsea are any more guilty of diving than any other side in the Premier League, the Stoke boss adds “My view is that they are the top team in the league at the moment. I think their mentality is strong and they have outstanding ability. They believe in themselves.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho meanwhile, insists the ref will have a vital role in tonight’s game, saying “With a good referee that can understand what is aggressivity, or when the aggression finishes and the rules of the game start, this will be no problem at all. We need a good referee, yes. A good, experienced referee who can understand exactly that. What happens in both boxes in this kind of match needs important decisions: what is aggressivity, and what goes beyond the rules of the game. That is important.
I speak with Courtois and we prepare him, but the referee is there, and the referee has to know what is allowed and what is not allowed, according to the rules of the game. And the rules of the game are the same everywhere. So it should be no problem. I know it’s difficult for every team to play this kind of match [at Stoke], and we are no exception. But, again, I’m not worried. The referee is there exactly to judge what is aggression, and welcome aggression – the pure one – makes the game much more beautiful. He’s there to referee, not me
When pressed on the issue of Diego Costa possibly being niggled by Stoke, Mourinho says “Are you expecting a battle? With one player trying to score goals, the other trying to stop him? It depends the way he tries to stop him. If he tries to do it in a good way and is successful maybe I will be waiting for him in the tunnel to congratulate him. If not, I hope the referee does his job. Remember we are a physical side, too. So it should be no problem for us. We are physical too. Nemanja Matic is a football player. You can be a big guy and be a fantastic player. You can be a big and not be physical or overly aggressive. Matic plays. Look what he does on the pitch. A beautiful left foot. At this moment, the way Chelsea play we have no space for physical players without technical quality. We are a technical side who want to play football. We have our own identity. But we can compete with physicality. That’s no problem for us. The referee is there, and I’m not worried because the referee is there.”

For Stoke, Bojan Krkic (hip), Marc Muniesa (hamstring) and Stephen Ireland (knee) are all expected to be available after injuries.
For Chelsea, Thibaut Courtois (muscular), Didier Drogba (ankle) and Kurt Zouma (head) are all expected to have recovered from injuries.

STOKE (Possible line-up): Begovic, Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Nzonzi, Cameron, Diouf, Bojan, Walters, Crouch
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Costa

Stoke 3-2 Chelsea (7th December 2013)

•Stoke have won one of their last five Premier League matches.
•Stoke have conceded a goal in each of their last 10 Premier League games
•Chelsea lost their last away game in their only defeat so far this season
•Chelsea have lost only one of their last 19 Premier League games played on a Monday
•Stoke haven’t lost any of their last six Premier League games played on a Monday.

Only once in the last four years have Chelsea come away from the Britannia Stadium with all three points, whilst Stoke haven’t lost any of their last six Premier League games played on a Monday night – doesn’t bode well for me.

One Response to “Stoke v CHELSEA: Preview”

  1. hae.. lets take this three today.. may God bless you