Stoke City face reigning champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, who will hope to keep up the pace with second placed Manchester United with a victory.
Chelsea are currently placed third on the table, a point behind Manchester United and 16 points behind table toppers Manchester City. They are coming off a 2-0 victory against the newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday and have 42 points to their name.
Stoke City on the other hand, are 13th on the table, 3 points away from the relegation zone. They played out a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield at the Kirklees Stadium on Tuesday and after 20 games this season, they’ve only managed to accumulate 20 points to their name.
In the reverse fixture back in September, the Potters were completely outplayed by Chelsea at the bet365 Stadium, with Alvaro Morata getting three goals and Pedro getting one.
Antonio Conte is expected to be without David Luiz and Charly Musonda for this tie due to injury, while Andreas Christensen’s participation is doubtful. There are a few changes expected to the side that started against Brighton on Tuesday.
Thibaut Courtois will likely start between the sticks, with Antonio Rudiger making way for Andreas Christensen to come in and join Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta in defence. Marcos Alonso is expected to start at left wingback, while Davide Zappacosta is expected to replace Victor Moses on the right.
Danny Drinkwater is expected to come in for Tiemoue Bakayoko, with N’golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas holding onto their place in midfield and Eden Hazard and top their top goalscorer Alvaro Morata will likely lead the line for Antonio Conte’s men once again.
Probable Starting XI(3-5-2): Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Gary Cahill; Davide Zappacosta, Cesc Fabregas, N’golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, Marcos Alonso; Marcos Alonso, Eden Hazard
Kurt Zouma will not be eligible to participate, as Chelsea are his parent club. Stephen Ireland and Bruno Martins Indi are out with injury, while the availability of defenders Erik Pieters, Glen Johnson, Ryan Shawcross and forward Jese remains doubtful.
Jack Butland is expected to start in goal, while Erik Pieters, Kevin Wimmer, Geoff Cameron and Tom Edwards are all expected to start in defence. Joe Allen and Darren Fletcher are expected to start further ahead in midfield, as a double pivot.
Ramadan Sobhi and Mame Diouf are expected to come into the side on the left and right wings respectively, with Xherdan Shaqiri moving into a more central role in behind Peter Crouch, who is expected to lead the line for the Potters ahead of Berahino and Jese.
Probable Starting XI(4-2-3-1): Jack Butland; Tom Edwards, Geoff Cameron, Kevin Wimmer, Erik Pieters; Darren Fletcher, Joe Allen; Mame Diouf, Xherdan Shaqiri, Ramadan Sobhi; Peter Crouch
- Chelsea have won 10 of their last 11 home matches against Stoke City across all competitions.
- Stoke City have lost 9 of their last 10 Premier League away games.
- Chelsea have lost only 2 of their last 10 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge.
- Stoke City have failed to win a single Premier League match at Stamford Bridge in 9 attempts, losing 8 and drawing 1.
- Stoke City have won 5, drawn 5 and lost 10 Premier League matches this season.
1. Stoke Asian Handicap +2.0 @ 2.060
2. Chelsea Clean Sheet – NO @ 2.10
3. Over 11.5 Corners @ 2.00
1. Peter Crouch to score anytime @ 6.00
Players To Watch
Chelsea: Alvaro Morata
The Spaniard hit double figures in the Premier League after scoring against Brighton and will definitely be looking to continue his good form. The Spaniard netted his first Chelsea hattrick against Stoke City back in September and all eyes will be on Morata to see if he can repeat the feat, or do something similar on Saturday.
Chelsea 2-0 Stoke City
The Blues got back to winning ways earlier this week against Brighton and will be looking to build some momentum going forward. Stoke City, in their current form aren’t expected to give the reigning champions too much trouble, but Chelsea have had a bad record against relatively smaller teams this season.
Chelsea are under pressure to get a result and Mark Hughes’ men will be looking to try and avenge that 0-4 thrashing they took earlier on in the season. That and the fact that they are trying to stay above the relegation zone should be all the motivation they need to take the fight to the Blues on Saturday.