Chelsea travel to the Britannia Stadium on Monday to play their seventeenth match of the season against Stoke City as they hope to avenge their 3-2 loss in this fixture last season.
Both teams will be looking to win their last match before Christmas and go into the festive season on a high.
TEAM NEWS, INJURY UPDATES AND SUSPENSIONS
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is expected to be fit after suffering a muscular injury, due to which he missed the last two matches against Hull City and Derby County. Kurt Zouma is available for selection, after he suffered a mild concussion, after colliding with Petr Cech mid-air, while playing against Derby County. Didier Drogba should recover in time from his ankle injury sustained against Derby. Apart from these, Jose Mourinho has no other injury concerns. No player is suspended for this match.
Stoke forward and their standout performer in recent times, Bojan Krkic is expected to be fit ahead of Monday’s match, after he sustained a hip injury against Crystal Palace. Defender Marc Muniesa has recovered from a hamstring injury, which kept him out of the match against Crystal Palace, while midfielder Stephen Ireland is doubtful with a knee problem. Peter Odemwingie is a long term absentee, while the match comes too early for Texeira and Steve Sidwell. Victor Moses is ineligible for Monday’s match, as he is on loan from Chelsea. There are no suspension concerns for the Potters.
Chelsea quickly banished all fears of a meltdown after their loss at Newcastle with three straight wins against Sporting, Hull City, and Derby. Still leading the table, Chelsea will battle hard to avoid a repeat of last year’s result in this fixture. With a relatively easy 3-1 win against Derby County in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, Chelsea will know that Stoke away are a different prospect altogether. Last season at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke beat Chelsea 3-2, with Assaidi scoring the winner in stoppage time. However, this year, Chelsea look much stronger and ready to face the physical prowess of Stoke. Nonetheless, Jose Mourinho will be wary of Stoke’s threat and will be reiterating the importance of grinding out results to his team.
Stoke City sit 12th in the league table but have already beaten Manchester City and Arsenal this season. The win against the Gunners reminded everyone about Stoke’s ability to perform against the bigger teams. Their last match was a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace, but Mark Hughes knows that Chelsea are a huge step up in quality, even if it is a home match. He will remind his players about their performances against Manchester City and Arsenal, and also against Chelsea last season, where they won a thrilling match. Stoke will be looking to nick a result against the Blues.
Chelsea have played 42 matches at the Britannia Stadium, winning just 17 while Stoke City have won 16 matches. The rest 9 have been draws. In these matches, Stoke have scored more than Chelsea, with 56 goals while Chelsea have scored 50.
LAST SEASON HEAD TO HEAD
Chelsea 3-0 Stoke City 05/04/2014 (BPL)
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City 26/01/2014 (FA CUP)
Stoke City 3-2 Chelsea 07/12/2013 (BPL)
LAST 5 PREMIER LEAGUE MEETINGS
Chelsea 3-0 Stoke City 05/04/2014
Stoke City 3-2 Chelsea 07/12/2013
Stoke City 0-4 Chelsea 12/01/2013
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City 22/09/2012
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City 10/03/2012
PREDICTED STARTING LINE-UPS
Chelsea: Courtois (GK), Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (C), Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Costa.
Stoke City: Begovic (C), Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Whelan, Nzonzi, Walters, Krkic, Diouf, Crouch.
Stoke City 0-1 Chelsea
TIME: 2000 GMT / 0130 IST
VENUE: Britannia Stadium
REFEREE: Neil Swarbrick
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni