Can Chelsea build on their FA Cup quarter final victory over Manchester United when they face Stoke at the weekend? They make the trip to the Potteries on Saturday, as they aim to continue their push for the Premier League title. After their win over the Red Devils on Monday night, there’s a very real possibility that Antonio Conte’s men can end the season with a league and cup double. However, they need to keep their focus in the remaining weeks, with a queue of top sides lining up behind them.
With Liverpool facing Manchester City, another one of the top four is guaranteed to drop points this weekend. That can boost the Blues’ position at the top of the table, as long as they can see off Stoke this weekend. This will be a brand new test for Conte, but he’s built a side which should be able to withstand any challenge they face at the Bet365 Stadium. This trip is their final match of the month, can they round off an impressive run in March by winning against the Potters?
Team News: Changes unlikely after cup success
It’s hard to see Antonio Conte making too many changes for this game. He kept his full strength side for the clash with Manchester United, bringing in Willian for Pedro and Nemanja Matic for Cesc Fabregas. Those two switches helped them to victory over a top six rival, and they should help them through a difficult away trip. The combination of Matic and N’Golo Kante in midfield is a bruising partnership, while Willian offers more tracking back. That leaves more room for Eden Hazard, who’ll play in support of Diego Costa. Conte isn’t going to feel the need to change from that, especially with no club game for another two weeks.
Mark Hughes doesn’t have the same injury free squad as Conte. They’re missing first choice goalkeeper Jack Butland, while Xherdan Shaqiri is also out for the Potters. They’ve been lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation of late, which sees Peter Crouch as their main focal point in attack. The forward has caused plenty of problems for Chelsea in the past, including a goal at Stamford Bridge earlier this season. However, just how will that setup fare at home to the 3-4-3 system employed by the league leaders?
Stoke come into this game in patchy form, following a 0-0 draw with Manchester City. That point was a solid result, but the Potters had their backs to the wall at the Etihad. While that was a hard earned point, they have still won just two of their last seven matches. An early exit in the FA Cup was a serious blow to their campaign. They lost 2-0 at home to Championship side Wolves, who Chelsea then dumped out a couple of rounds later.
Stoke are currently ninth in the Premier League, which would represent a good finish to the campaign, after a poor start. Hughes was under pressure at the Bet365 earlier this season, but he’s managed to straighten things out for the Potters. They’ve been in pretty mixed form at this ground so far, winning six of their 14 home league matches. Unlike in previous years, most of those victories have been against weaker sides, with no big scalps of note. Heavy defeats to Tottenham home and away have shown that Stoke have fallen slightly, after once possessing a fortress like home record.
Stoke v Chelsea Head to Head
Recent meetings between these two sides have been very mixed, including a couple of poor results for the Blues away to Stoke in the past. A league defeat and a penalty shootout loss here in 2015 didn’t do much for Jose Mourinho’s hopes of holding on to his job. The Blues did claim a victory in their last meeting, which proved more difficult for the league leaders than they’d imagined.
- Chelsea 4-2 Stoke, Dec 2016
- Chelsea 1-1 Stoke, Mar 2016
- Stoke 1-0 Chelsea, Nov 2015
- Stoke 1-1 Chelsea, Oct 2015
- Chelsea 2-1 Stoke, Apr 2015
- Both teams to score – evens with Betfred
- Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals – 31/20 with Coral
Chelsea come into this match as 8/13 favourites with Sky Bet, despite travelling to the Bet365 Stadium. While this tends to be a tough place to go, Stoke are priced at 11/2 with BetVictor to get a result here. Meanwhile, Betfair are offering 3/1 on the draw. It’s telling that the Blues are such heavy favourites in this kind of difficult fixture. While trips to Stoke aren’t as difficult as they once were. Can the Blues take full advantage of some patchy Stoke form and continue their push towards the Premier League title?
Chelsea should be worried about their defensive record of late, after conceding in their last five Premier League matches. They struggled against Stoke’s attack in their previous meeting, despite coming out 4-2 winners. Hughes’ men found a way around an excellent Blues defence, and they’ll be confident of scoring against a side who have looked more open in recent weeks. The leaders should be able to find the net in this game, after scoring in 86% of their league matches. That’s why we’re backing both teams to score, which is priced at evens with Betfred.
Chelsea should still take the points, despite their problems at the back. Stoke are a side who look vulnerable, especially against those at the top of the table. While we see Stoke getting a goal, their recent form against Tottenham, two 4-0 defeats this term, makes us think that Conte’s men will be able to hit a few goals. After all, 63% of their league matches this term have seen over 2.5 goals. That’s why we’re backing an away win and over 2.5 goals, which is priced at 31/20 with Coral.