PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: STOKE CITY V CHELSEA - PART TWO
Ahead of Chelsea playing away from home for the second time this week, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton complete their detailed look at the fixture…
Chelsea have managed to prevent Stoke scoring in seven of our last eight encounters in all competitions and have won 10 of the most recent 12. Another victory this weekend would close the gap at the top to one point for a day at least.
Jose Mourinho was delighted with every aspect of his team's performance at Sunderland except the most basic: defending corners and free-kicks. A series of failures to clear the danger prefaced all three goals conceded.
As a result, despite the four goals scored there were plenty of tired legs on the field at the end of Wednesday's match. Samuel Eto'o and possibly Oscar are available again after their respective groin and ankle problems. Ashley Cole, Ryan Bertrand and Kevin De Bruyne plus late midweek substitutes Andre Schurrle and John Mikel Obi can be added to the list of possible starters in the Potteries.
Chelsea have scored from set-plays seven times this season and that could again be profitable this weekend. One of Stoke's hangovers from the Pulis era is a tendency to commit fouls in problematic areas - their players have also been booked 32 times, a Premier League high, with right-back Geoff Cameron (pictured below) the worst offender.
However they also remain strong in the air (despite conceding from set-pieces), and use direct balls to the flanks to break quickly through wingers Matthew Etherington or Oussama Assaidi on the left, or Marko Arnautovic or Jon Walters on the opposite flank.
Upfront a decent understanding has developed between Peter Crouch and the no.10 behind him, Charlie Adam. However, the red mist that has engulfed the career of Stoke's current leading scorer came down again on Wednesday, when Adam pushed over Cardiff striker Fraizer Campbell despite already having one yellow to his name on the night. He was not booked again.
Crouch, of course, presents a uniquely awkward attacking threat in the box. In most other areas of the field when the ball is flung in to him Chelsea have generally stood off the 6ft 7in forward, now 32, and aimed to intercept the flicks and knock-downs he likes to try. Kenwyne Jones is not a regular starter under Hughes.
Cardiff defended tenaciously at Stoke in the 0-0 midweek stalemate but either side might have scored with better finishing or fortune. Hughes has admitted he would like to rejuvenate his attack during the January transfer window but only with the right person and on a tight budget.
Hughes will have been concerned by fluid attacking shown by Chelsea at Sunderland, especially two-goal Eden Hazard who Gustavo Poyet afterwards described as 'unplayable'. Juan Mata again contributed strongly and Frank Lampard took Chelsea's individual goalscoring record to 208.
The same back four has figured in the last four unbeaten league matches, but there is the possibility of a return for Ashley Cole, who last started at Newcastle.
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea are looking to extend our unbeaten league run against Stoke to 15 games. We have won three and drawn two of our league games at the Britannia Stadium.
This fixture was first played in August 1922, a 2-1 win for the visitors thanks to an early brace from inside-left Buchanan Sharp. The Scot also netted the winner in the reverse fixture, a 3-2 game in London a few weeks later.
Our 4-0 away success last season was the biggest in our history at Stoke. Prior to that the best had been 25 years and four days ago on 3 December 1988, when manager Bobby Campbell was driving the Blues towards promotion from Division Two.
Chelsea won despite being a man down for over 50 minutes, midfielder Peter Nicholas having been sent off for a supposed head-butt of Simon Stainrod in the opening minutes. Almost immediately after that skipper Graham Roberts opened the scoring from the spot.
Stainrod, formerly of QPR, was himself shown a second yellow just before the hour mark for going in late. Clive Wilson (pictured below), generally a left-back but excelling on the wing, added a second goal five minutes earlier. With the visitors breaking through at will, pacy Kevin McAllister completed the 3-0 win.
Stoke's last league win against us was 38 years ago on 5 April 1975 in the old First Division. City won 3-0 at the Victoria Ground with goals from Terry Conroy (2) and Jimmy Greenhoff.
Stoke's last victory against the Blues was at Stamford Bridge in 1995 in the League Cup second round when Paul Peschisolido scored the only goal.
Our last 10 league games at Stoke
1972/73 - Drew 1-1 - Old Division 1
1973/74 - Stoke won 1-0 - Old Division 1
1974/75 - Stoke won 3-0 - Old Division 1
1984/85 - Chelsea won 1-0 - Old Division 1
1988/89 - Chelsea won 3-0 - Old Division 2
2008/09 - Chelsea won 2-0 - Premier League
2009/10 - Chelsea won 2-1 - Premier League
2010/11 - Drew 1-1 - Premier League
2011/12 - Drew 0-0 - Premier League
2012/13 - Chelsea won 4-0 - Premier League
Other match last season
22 September 2012 Barclays Premier League
Chelsea v Stoke in all competitions
Games played 89
Chelsea wins 41
Stoke wins 27
Head to head in the League at Victoria Ground and Britannia Stadium
Games played 39
Chelsea wins 16
Stoke wins 15
Biggest league win at Stoke for each team
Stoke 6-1 Chelsea 04/02/1939, 15/02/1947
Stoke 0-4 Chelsea - 12/01/2013
Chelsea failed to beat Stoke: 846
Stoke last beat Chelsea in the league:14,126
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,122
Liverpool won the league: 8,617