Chelsea v Stoke Match Preview (Premier League) – Saturday 5th March 2016

Chelsea are looking to make it back to back home league wins with victory over Stoke City on Saturday. After thrashing Newcastle last month, the Blues are now hoping to get some momentum going at the Bridge, before attention turns to a massive few days for the club. Can they take a much need victory here, or will this be another slip up?

Momentum seems to be the big thing about the club now, as they look to battle for success in two cup competitions. The Blues have got themselves up the table after a couple of wins, but they’re now playing so well that they can be considered a threat in both the FA Cup and Champions League. It’s going to take a huge effort for them to win either competition, but right now they’re certainly in with a chance.

Next week is a make or break week for their season, with PSG visiting the Bridge on the Wednesday night in the Champions League. That’s followed by a trip to Everton in the FA Cup quarter finals the Saturday after, and that will really test their ambitions for the season.

Guus Hiddink will want his side in good form going into those games, but there’s also a possibility that he’ll hold a couple of players back for those clashes. With the Stoke game in the league much less important than the cup clashes, we might see a rotated side take the field this weekend. Few managers would prioritise the cups ahead of the league, but in Hiddink’s short stay, trophies are the most important thing to him and the best the Premier League can seemingly offer is the booby prize of Europa League qualification.

That does mean the team are running the risk of taking their eye off the ball in the league ahead of this Stoke game. If they do choose to rest a few players, that could leave them at risk of an upset. Stoke have already beaten the champions twice this season, albeit once on penalties. Both those games came at the Britannia Stadium, while unusually Stoke have actually been pretty dangerous on the road this term.

They’ve been through a poor recent run, where they lost three games in a row away from home, but they got back to winning ways at Bournemouth. With their set up, they’re a brilliant counter attacking side, and that could hurt this Chelsea team, as they’re just getting back the confidence to control games. Without their biggest names, this could be a very tough afternoon.

Given the size of the squad, it’s hard to see full scale rotation here. One or two may drop out, but expect Hiddink to try and keep his side winning games, so they go into their crucial week in impressive form. They need to restore their fear factor at the Bridge, and the only way to do that is to keep on winning.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1