Chelsea are on the verge of equaling a Premier League record, as they come up against a Stoke City side still smarting from the defeat to Liverpool in the last round of games.
The 4-1 humbling at the hands of Jurgen Klopp knocked Stoke City down to 13th place. Mark Hughes and his men now face the daunting task of avoiding a second successive humiliation at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are currently playing on another level, with manager Antonio Conte exorcising the demons of last season with his fiery brand of management that has revitalized the Chelsea team.
It promises to be an interesting Premier League encounter on New Year’s eve. Stoke City are more than capable of giving Chelsea a run for their money, on paper at least.
Probable Line-up & Tactics:
The return of defensive lynchpin N’golo Kante to the center of midfield will be great news for all of Chelsea’s attackers. The defensive midfielder acts as a brilliant shield to the defence, and it gives all of those around him the license to get forward and attack.
Much of Chelsea’s attacking play could generate down the wings, with the two wing-backs Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses in sublime form. They will look to link up with the two wingers Willian and Eden Hazard, though the latter has been given license to play a more free roaming role.
The Blues will attack from the get go and are likely to hold a high line in order to have more of their players in the opposition half. Diego Costa is the focal point of attack, but the Blues have shown that the goals can come from anywhere.
Probable Starting XI:- Courtois; Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Kante, Matic, Moses; Hazard, Costa, Willian
Mark Hughes will definitely set up his men to defend deep and play a cautious brand of football. They simply cannot afford to give Chelsea space in their half, and in this regard the two central midfielders will be instructed to play in a deeper role.
Stoke could well be starved of possession, and this makes the quick counter-attack their most potent threat. The individual talent of Xherdan Shaqiri could be something Stoke will count on to shock Chelsea, but otherwise they will look to defend and counter.
Probable Starting XI:- Grant; Pieters, Martins Indi, Shawcross, Johnson; Imbula, Whelan; Diouf, Allen, Shaqiri; Walters
- The last time Chelsea lost a league game at home to Stoke City was in 1974.
- A Chelsea victory on Saturday would equal the top-flight record of 13 consecutive wins in a single season, set by Preston North End and Sunderland in 1891-92, and Arsenal in 2001-02.
- Arsenal won 13 in a row at the end of the season and won their opening game in 2002-03 to set the overall record for consecutive wins in the league at 14.
- The Blues have conceded only 2 goals during their current 12 game winning streak.
- The Potters have ended the year with a victory for the past two years.
Player to watch out for:
The Spanish striker was suspended for Chelsea’s last game against Bournemouth, and will be raring to go against the Potters defence and add to his scalps this season. Costa is currently leading the scoring charts with 13 goals, and he has also helped himself to five assists.
The Potters defence will have to dig their heels in deep and resist the force of nature that Costa has become this season.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.20
2. Chelsea over 1.5 cards @ 2.10
3. Stoke Corner Handicap +4.0 @ 1.80
1. Both Teams to Score in 1st half @ 6.00
Chelsea 2-0 Stoke City
It’s very difficult to see Stoke City getting anything from this game. The Potters don’t have a great record at Stamford Bridge and head into the game on the back of a four game winless streak.
Chelsea, on the other hand, are going great guns and look par for the course to equal the league record of 13 successive wins in a season. Barring an unprecedented and valiant show by Stoke, the Blues are likely to dominate this fixture in front of their own fans.