STOKE CITY FC
Stamford Bridge, London
28 August, 2010, 7:25 PM IST
Few clubs have started any season as disappointingly as Stoke City have started this season. If the twin losses to Wolverhampton and Tottenham haven’t given Tony Pulis a splitting migraine, the troubles courtesy a roster of injuries, a mutinous goalkeeper and a certain critical Frenchman will not be making things any easier for him. Things couldn’t have been better for his Italian counterpart who manages a Chelsea side currently on a roll.
The champions of last season, and favorites this time around too, are yet to drop a point this season – a feat unmatched by any of their opponents. While two games are too few to base the outcome of an entire season on, it is the manner in which Chelsea has swept past lesser sides that has the rest of the league sitting up and taking notice. The World Cup woes and fatigue have well and truly been brushed aside, and the Blues look like extending their impressive winning streak at home against a woefully unprepared Stoke City side.
No love affair with that Frenchman
Arsene Wenger has done his image in Staffordshire no favors, by lambasting Stoke City for their alleged overtly physical style of play. The Frenchman, who is the pastmaster of delicate football, is aghast at the long-ball and hard-nosed tactics employed by Pulis’ men. The highly-publicised comments could not have come at a worse time for Stoke City, as the last thing they needed now was their on-field endeavors coming under the microscope. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that Stoke won’t be finding themselves at the receiving end of the referee’s generosity, on Saturday. Couple that with the 7-0 whipping they received at the hands of Chelsea, last season, and things dont look too bright.
By the sidelines
Carlo Ancelotti’s side is bustling with fit and raring-to-go stars, with Jose Bosingwa the only long-term casualty in Chelsea FC’s ranks. However, the Portuguese has resumed training and should be fighting for a place in a few weeks. Ivanovic, on the other hand, may not feature this weekend due to an injury. Stoke, on the other hand, will have to do without the services of the injured Mamady Sidibe, while Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence are expected to join Portsmouth. Asmir Begovic who is on the radar of several high-profile clubs, will probably be given the cold shoulder by Pulis even if he offers to play.
Pulis might consider himself very fortunate if Kenwyne Jones shakes off a knee niggle in time for the game, as he could do with a boost in offense. Jones’ presence, along with that of fellow newcomer Jon Walters, may not exactly bring a smile to Tony Pulis’ face, who can be expected to go in with a defensive setup to counter a rampaging Chelsea.
Possible Starting Line-Ups
Chelsea FC – Cech, Terry, Cole, Ferreira, Alex, Lampard, Ramires, Essien, Malouda, Anelka, Drogba.
Stoke City FC – Sorensen, Collins, Shawcross, Huth, Higginbotham, Wheland, Etherington, Delap, Whitehead, Walters, Jones.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea FC)
Having scored 3, and set up 4, of Chelsea’s last 12 goals, it would be foolish to bet against the powerful Ivorian making a huge impact. Stoke’s defense will have to bring their A-game if they are to withstand what will inevitably be a blistering assault from Chelsea’s spearhead.
Chelsea 4-1 Stoke City
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST