PMB: Stoke v Chelsea - tactics

We conclude our Pre-Match Briefing for today's Premier League encounter away...



•            Both coaches made considerable changes for their Carabao Cup games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Any first team players involved for Stoke have the marginal advantage of a day longer to recover than their Blues counterparts, as well as no testing European trip to come next week.


•            Making his first start of the campaign, Eden Hazard’s was just one of many eye-catching performances against Nottingham Forest midweek. This match offers the mouthwatering prospect of the Belgian playing alongside Alvaro Morata – so far the pair have shared fewer than 40 minutes on the pitch. 

•            The comfortable cup win allowed Antonio Conte to try out what emerged as a rock-solid back three of Toni Rudiger, Gary Cahill and Andreas Christensen. The accomplished young Dane, already endorsed as banned David Luiz’s replacement in the centre, was taken off early (for the assured Jake Clarke-Salter) in what may be the first of four matches for him over 11 days.


•            Stoke are a physically imposing side and Conte may address that in his plans. Last Sunday Chelsea switched personnel and systems a few times in an attempt to find a way round an unusually defensive Arsenal, who went man for man across the pitch. The early departure of Pedro, whose pace and cleverness had produced the game’s best goalscoring opportunity, was for medical, not tactical reasons. However, the introduction of Tiemoue Bakayoko, with his power and purpose, eventually allowed the Blues to apply sustained pressure to the Gunners, and the same could be true against Stoke’s Joe Allen and Darren Fletcher. Until David Luiz’s sending-off, the final line-up had Cesc Fabregas often playing as the deepest central midfielder, with Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante further forward. Second substitute Eden Hazard played behind the striker, forming a midfield diamond in a 3-1-4-1-1 formation.    

•            Mark Hughes will have to shuffle his central defence again for the visit of his former club. Kurt Zouma, who has impressed Potters fans while on loan from Stamford Bridge, is ineligible, and Geoff Cameron remains sidelined with a hamstring and Ryan Shawcross with a back injury. Kevin Wimmer is a doubt.


•            The Welshman said his side were ‘too loose in our general play’ last weekend at Newcastle, a game that could have gone either way. Late on he switched from a back three to 4-3-3 and replaced Allen with Peter Crouch who, picked out by a long Xherdan Shaqiri pass, came close to setting up an equaliser. The Magpies eventually won 2-1 by exploiting discomfort at corners.


•            The power and dynamism of summer signing Max Choupo-Moting impressed many during the Potters’ creditable 2-2 draw at home to Man United a few weeks back. The Germany-born Cameroon international faced Chelsea twice in the 2014/15 Champions League group stage with Schalke, including a 5-0 victory for the Londoners in Gelsenkirchen. However, Stoke’s attacks tend to favour their right side, where Mame Diram Diouf is the roving wing-back, and their standout player Shaqiri likes to cut in towards the box and shoot early.





Danny Drinkwater (calf)


David Luiz (second of three)


Stoke City


Geoff Cameron (hamstring)

Ibrahim Afellay (knee)

Stephen Ireland (leg)

Julien Ngoy (thigh)

Ryan Shawcross (back)


Kevin Wimmer (hamstring)


Kurt Zouma (loan)

By Rick Glanvill