PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: STOKE CITY V CHELSEA - PART ONE
The red-and-white-striped opposition keep coming as Chelsea seek a fourth straight league win. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look at the prospects in the Potteries…
Sunderland had enjoyed a 100 per cent record in their previous three home games under Gustavo Poyet before the Blues' pulsating 4-3 win there, which made it nine on the spin at the Stadium of Light.
More quirkily, it was also the 13th straight win against teams beginning with 'S' for JoséeMourinho, once infamous for a cup final 'Sssssh'. Perhaps the win will hush some of the critics who suggested the cosmopolitan Blues will not like it up 'em on a cold night up north. Such a showing is timely ahead of the imminent meetings with Stoke, Steaua and Sunderland again.
Chelsea's manager hailed the midweek victory as by far the best team performance away from home this season - other than 'three ridiculous goals' from poorly-defended set plays.
Former Blues hero Poyet joined the Portuguese in lavishing praise on one of his successors at Stamford Bridge, Eden Hazard, who earned a few 10-out-of-10 ratings with two goals, an assist and countless other exhilarating moments. The challenge for the brilliant Belgian - still only 22, remember - is to hit such heights consistently.
Even that, though, falls short of an individual display in Chelsea's 4-0 triumph at Stoke last season. Jon Walters' two own goals, missed penalty and volley into his own face will take some eclipsing.
The Blues are salvaging points yet again this season. There are two ways that can change: stop going behind, or stop turning it around.
The set-piece defending on Wednesday would have had former Potters boss Tony Pulis salivating, but he is now at Crystal Palace and must wait a week to deploy his tactics at the Bridge. His successor, another former Chelsea legend, Mark Hughes, takes a more circuitous route to goal.
The Potters have managed just five goals in seven games at the Britannia Stadium this campaign and only Arsenal have a better record in the last five away games than Chelsea's three wins, one draw and one defeat.
Yet the three attacking midfielders will have to be at their creative best against the obdurate hosts on Saturday - Mark Hughes's side have conceded once in the last four home matches. Stoke season ticket holders have witnessed just eight league goals this term, the fewest of any in the top flight.
Chelsea's win rate of 73 per cent against Hughes as a manager is slightly lower than against his predecessor. As a player he was one of true greats whose arrival transformed our club in the 1990s, and no game contribution captures that impact better than the 4-2 FA Cup triumph over Liverpool in 1997.
Hughes was the proud possessor of a Peter Bonetti Chelsea kit as a child and in a week of reunions it will be good to see him and back-to-back Premier League champion Robert Huth, who is unfortunately recuperating from surgery at present.
Both enjoyed the FA Cup at Chelsea. Huth scored one of his two goals for the club in the competition and Hughes won it in 1997. The draw for the third round of this season's Cup takes place on Sunday, live on ITV1, after the Tamworth v Bristol City match, around 4.10pm.
The Blues have the chance to close the gap behind leaders Arsenal to a single point on Saturday as the Gunners host in-form Everton on Sunday. The Toffees have drawn on two of their last four Emirates visits.
Man City travel to Southampton, the venue last season for an error-strewn performance that led to a 1-3 defeat - Mauricio Pochettino's first win with Saints.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Manchester United v Newcastle 12.45pm - BT Sport
Crystal Palace v Cardiff 3pm
Liverpool v West Ham 3pm
Southampton v Manchester City 3pm
Stoke v Chelsea 3pm
West Brom v Norwich 3pm
Sunderland v Tottenham 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Fulham v Aston Villa 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Arsenal v Everton 4pm - Sky Sports
Swansea v Hull 8pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League top eight|
The Blues have won 11 points from a possible 21 away from Stamford Bridge this term.
Chelsea have not lost any of the seven games in which we have opened the scoring (six wins, one draw).
We have dropped just two points from winning positions this season.
|Last six results|
|Nov 6||Schalke (Champions League h)||W 3-0|
|Nov 9||West Brom (h)||D 2-2|
|Nov 23||West Ham (a)||W 3-0|
|Nov 26||Basel (Champions League a)||L 0-1|
|Dec 1||Southampton (h)||W 3-1|
|Dec 4||Sunderland (a)||W 4-3|
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 4
An away defeat: 2
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Wed 11 Dec||Steaua Bucharest (Champions League) home||7.45pm|
|Sat 14 Dec||Crystal Palace home||3.00pm|
|Tue 17 Dec||Sunderland (Capital One Cup) away||7.45pm|
Petr Cech's next clean sheet will be his 150th in the Premier League.
Michael Essien's next league start will be his 150th.
Congratulations to captain John Terry who celebrates his 33rd birthday on the day of the match.
1 League Cup in 1972
Premier League - 13th
FA Cup - Fourth round
Capital One Cup - Second round
Stoke's best seasons in the top flight were in 1935/36 and 1946/47 when they finished fourth. The Potters last and only major trophy was the League Cup in 1972 when as underdogs; they defeated Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley.
Stoke have won three of their last 13 home league matches against Norwich last season, Crystal Palace and Sunderland.
The Potters have won one of their last 11 Premier League games.
They have won two points from six games against top-half teams this term.
Stoke have only conceded three goals in seven home Barclays Premier League games, that's one goal every three and a half hours.
The Potters have failed to score in 54 per cent of their last 13 home league matches.
Manager Mark Hughes
Days in charge: 191
|Potters' last 10 year league history|
|2003/04||66||11th||League Division One||2|
|Last six results|
|Oct 29||Birmingham (Capital One Cup a) won 4-2 on pens||D 4-4|
|Nov 2||Southampton (h)||D 1-1|
|Nov 10||Swansea (a)||D 3-3|
|Nov 23||Sunderland (h)||W 2-0|
|Nov 30||Everton (a)||L 0-4|
|Dec 4||Cardiff (h)||D 0-0|
Premier League scorers (12)
Adam 3 (1 pen), Arnautovic 1, Begovic 1, Cameron 1, Crouch 1, Ireland 1, Nzonzi 1, Pennant 1, Shawcross 1, Walters 1.
League games since
A home win: 1
A home draw: 0
A home defeat: 4
POTTERS MAJOR SUMMER MOVES AND AUTUMN LOANS
Ins Marko Arnautovic (Werder Bremen, £2m), Marc Muniesa (Barcelona, free), Erik Pieters (PSV Eindhoven, £3m), Oussama Assaidi (Liverpool, loan), Stephen Ireland (Aston Villa, loan).
Outs Rory Delap (Burton, free), Matthew Lund (Rochdale, free), Carlo Nash (Norwich, free), Michael Owen (retired), Mamady Sidibe (released, now CSKA Sofia), Matthew Upson (Brighton, free), Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough, free), Jack Butland (Barnsley, loan), Ryan Shotton (Wigan, loan), Michael Kightly (Burnley, loan), Cameron Jerome, loan).
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Jonathan Moss is the referee for his second Chelsea match this season. He was the official for our opening day 2-0 win against Hull at Stamford Bridge.
There are no suspensions.
Branislav Ivanovic is one domestic booking away from a suspension having received four yellow cards this season.
Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.
- Tune in to Chelsea TV for exclusive pre-match build-up and live commentary.