The two sides find themselves dangerously close to the relegation zone ahead of the clash at Britannia Stadium, with Potters hoping for more success over the Premiership holders having eliminated them from the League Cup and the Blues desperate to build on the hard-fought triumph over Dynamo Kiev in midweek.
Stoke City have seriously improved the club’s profile over the years, which allow them to recruit players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay, Glen Johnson and Joselu among others, but in spite of the abundance of attacking talent, the Potters have been pretty disappointing up front. Mark Hughes’ side is the not-so-proud owner of the worst scoring record in the elite division, having bagged mere 9 goals in 11 fixtures. Stoke have now failed to score more than one goal in five successive matches and in spite of Chelsea’s poor form, they are unlikely to fare any better when facing the reigning Premier League champions. The Potters did really well to emerge victorious when the two sides met in the Capital One Cup some ten days ago, recovering from the late equalizer to win the tie on penalties. And even though Stoke are not exactly where they want to be in the Premiership standings, chances are they would be perfectly happy with another stalemate, which is why they will not be taking too many risks going forward. Manager Mark Hughes will have Geoff Cameron and Phil Bardsley back from injury and suspension respectively, but Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel is ineligible to face his parent club.
In spite of the narrow win over Dynamo Kiev in midweek, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho remains under huge pressure following the club’s worst start to the season in years. The Special One is banned from attending the game at Britannia, but no doubt he will have been working hard to prepare his squad for a very important match. The Portuguese coach no longer appears to be in control of the dressing room, even if that is something the Chelsea players will never admit, and many agree that Willian has been the only player that deserves praise for his performances this season. All other star men, as well as those low-profile footballers have largely struggled for form in the opening exchanges, and Chelsea definitely do not appear to be in the clear just yet. The lack of confidence will affect their ability to create chances against rock-solid Stoke side that have only conceded 12 goals this term, which is the seventh-best defensive record in the top flight. With star striker Diego Costa completely out of form, the Blues could struggle to break the opposition on Saturday afternoon. Jose Mourinho will have both Pedro Rodriguez and Branislav Ivanovic back in contention after the duo recovered from injury.
Just like ten days ago, chances are we will see another tight game between two sides that have major problems up front, so it is not realistic to expect too many goals at Britannia. There is a good chance that one goal will decide the winner, so we are backing under 2.5 goals to be scored.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 3/4
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