. Stoke City
Britannia Stadium, Stoke
Tuesday 27th October 2015, 1945 GMT
For the second time in 4 matches, Chelsea FC face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium — albeit this time in the Premier League. The proverbial cold, wet evening in Stoke proved to be the Blues’ downfall in the Capital One Cup as they failed to penetrate the home side, eventually losing out on penalties. The 166-mile journey north-west for Chelsea FC players and fans could be a nervous one as they attempt to revive a failing season.
The home side has had a stop-start season so far with injuries to some key players, while star signing Xherdan Shaqiri is yet to start firing. A penalty shoot-out win over the visitors just over a week ago will be fresh in the memory of the players. A good October and a clean sheet in their last match against Newcastle has given them some momentum coming into this match. Backed by a vociferous home support, the players will be hoping to feed off that energy and produce another performance that will send the supporters home happy.
Meanwhile, the away side has had a disastrous beginning to the season. So much so that manager Jose Mourinho is being talked of as the next boss to lose his job, having only won the title six months ago. Perhaps what is symbolic of their ill-disciplined beginning to the season, is the fact that Mourinho is not going to be allowed in the stadium, let alone be on the touchline.
If that is a good thing for the players, only time will tell. For now though, the players will have the unfamiliar voices of Steve Holland and Rui Faria urging them on from the touchline. With more losses this season already than the entire last season, all but gone in the title challenge, and the lack of form of their top players could well mean that someone will be out of a job soon if they dona t start producing results.
Team news and Tactics
Boss Mark Hughes reported in the pre-match press conference that his side is relatively injury-free at the moment. Only Shay Given and Marc Muniesa are ruled out of this match while the rest of the squad is available for selection. Marco van Ginkel is ineligible to play against his parent club.
A formation similar to Chelseaa s, the home side will be expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Jonathan Walters expected to lead the attack. Charlie Adam and Glen Whelan will be the pivot in midfield. The pacy attacking midfield trio of Stoke could be expected to put the vulnerable Chelsea defence under pressure. In defence, the ever-growing reputation of Jack Butland was further enhanced last week as he put in a splendid performance against Newcastle to earn his side an important point.
The visitors are low on confidence and Hughes is experienced enough to know that they will be nervous about losing yet another game. That indeed should spur his players more to go on and get all three points.
On the injury front, only Thibaut Courtios is a long-term absentee. Falcao is ruled out of this game with a muscle problem while Branislav Ivanovic is available for selection once again.
If the experienced Serb does indeed start, he will be a part of Chelseaa s 4-2-3-1 formation with Ramires and Nemanja Matic expected to sit in the holding role in midfield. Predicting Chelseaa s midfield nowadays is no easy task with even Eden Hazard unsure of a place in the starting lineup, but we are going to put our money where our mouth is.
Oscar should start behind Diego Costa in an attacking midfield role. Willian is an automatic choice on the right wing on account of him being Chelseaa s best player so far this season. Hazard should start this game having been dropped against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League. Pedro is also available for selection once again, but could start from the bench in this one.
A good performance againt Kiev will give the visitors some confidence coming into this match. A good performance and result here will boost the players morale no end too. Perhaps the absence of the ever-glowing glare of Mourinho missing from the touchline, the players could play with more freedom and save their manager his job a for the time being.
Player to watch out for
Willian (Chelsea FC)
Often the underrated workhorse at Chelsea FC, the Brazilian is beginning to show his class. The five goals from direct free-kicks he has taken this season has enhanced his reputation even further. Clearly Chelseaa s best player by far this season, all hopes will be pinned on him to produce yet another performance for the sake of his team and his manager.
- Stoke City have only won 1 of their last 5 Premier League matches at home
- Chelsea FC have already conceded more goals this season than they did in the entire 2004/05 campaign a Mourinhoa s first season in charge.
- Stoke City are the lowest scoring team in the Premier League so far this season.
- Traditionally, November is the worst month for Chelsea FC in terms of results in all of their Premier League seasons so far.
Stoke City 1 a 2 Chelsea FC
With so much talk about the Chelsea FC playersa form and their managera s antics, the lattera s absence on the sidelines may be a welcome break for the players. Along with that, they know this is a must-win game following up on a poor display against Liverpool FC last weekend.
Blast from the past