Chelsea aim to get their Premier League challenge back on track when they face Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening. Having suffered their third straight defeat away from home against PSG in midweek, a return home should be good for The Blues.
They were knocked off the top of the Premier League table last week after suffering a defeat to Crystal Palace, with Liverpool jumping ahead of them after a 4-0 win over Spurs. City and Liverpool now look the frontrunners for the title, with Jose Mourinho even ruling out their chances last weekend.
Chelsea have a lot of work to do, possibly too much according to Mourinho, but one win has changed the landscape of the title race in recent weeks. Liverpool and City both face quite difficult games, so with the title pressure off Chelsea could they haul themselves back in the race this weekend?
They’ll have to do it without a couple of important players. Ramires is currently suspended in both the Premier League and Champions League, after his red card at Aston Villa and booking against PSG in midweek. Samuel Eto’o is also unavailable, with the striker facing a race to get fit for next Tuesday’s return leg against the French side.
With that game following so closely after the clash with Stoke, we may see some players rested for this one. There are likely to be changes in Mourinho’s side anyway, as he has criticised the recent performances of both his attackers and defenders in the last week.
Lack of options in defence means the regular back four will probably feature again, unless John Terry or Gary Cahill are rested and replaced with David Luiz. Nemanja Matic, who is ineligible for the Champions League, will likely return to the side. After their striker-less line up on Wednesday Fernando Torres will probably come in for Andre Schurrle, while Mo Salah could be in line for his first Chelsea start if one of the attackers are rested.
Chelsea suffered a defeat when they met Stoke earlier in the season, going down 3-2 after a late goal from Ousama Assaidi. They have already beaten Stoke at Stamford Bridge this season though, with Oscar scoring in a 1-0 win in the FA Cup.
1-0 has been the final score in Stoke’s last three visits to Stamford Bridge, and with the Potters in good form that wouldn’t be a bad result for the Pensioners on Sunday. Stoke hit four past Aston Villa just a week after Chelsea went there and lost 2-0, so they’re now a side capable of scoring a few away from home.
Chelsea need a defensive performance after their poor showing in midweek, and while Stoke’s two Peters, Odemwingie and Crouch, aren’t exactly Ibrahimovic and Cavani, they’re still a threat. A good defensive performance and result would build momentum ahead of a crucial tie with PSG on Tuesday night and that’s what we predict.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 1-0