Mark Hughes had the pleasure of watching his Stoke City players knock Chelsea out of the Capital One Cup on penalties. However, Hughes must be frustrated that Stoke were unable to follow that up in their 0-0 away draw to the struggling Newcastle. Stoke will not be quite so confident in facing a Chelsea team with their backs against the wall.
José Mourinho will be fighting for his managerial future at Chelsea if he is still in charge for this Saturday evening tilt. To build confidence, Mourinho will have ideally secured a confidence-boosting Wednesday night victory at home to Dinamo Kiev in the Champions League. Any other result will impact the Blues’ confidence for the worse.
This is a tale of two defences. While Stoke have conceded only 12 goals in 11 games, Chelsea, who had the best defence in the league last season, have shipped an astonishing 22 goals over the same number of games.
Fortunately for Chelsea, however, their defence will be challenged by the joint-worst attack in the league. Stoke City have scored a mere nine goals in the league so far. Basically, this could be the simplest challenge thus far for the Chelsea defence.
Throughout the game, Chelsea should expect a physical challenge from Stoke. So long as Chelsea can cope with Stoke’s physical game, they should be able to create a few opportunities courtesy of the creative minds of Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Cesc Fàbregas. Talent eventually reigns supreme in situations like this.
Chelsea should also feel grateful that the misfiring Diego Costa did not receive a post-match suspension for his stamp during the 3-1 loss to Liverpool. A four-game absence would not have done the powerful striker any favourites.
Tip one: Chelsea to win @ 2.00 with Betfair
Tip two: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.70 with Betfair
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Chelsea are capable of winning this game even without Mourinho. Stoke’s inability to score leaves Chelsea with no excuse but to win. Additionally, there is no reason to be afraid of physicality as the Blues can call on Ramires and John Obi Mikel when needed.