You can be sure that Jose Mourinho will be doing all that he can in his efforts to take Chelsea out of their current slump when they welcome Stoke City to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.
Chelsea have had a bad week that started with the surprising loss to Crystal Palace last Saturday afternoon. This was compounded by their defeat at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday, prompting Mourinho’s comments about his lack of “real strikers”.
Meanwhile at Stoke, they are enjoying a good spell that could see them finish with their highest points total ever in the Premier League, and Mark Hughes will surely remind his players of this fact when they face the Blues at the weekend.
It has the potential to be a great game, especially if Chelsea are to put themselves back in the driving seat of the title race.
Chelsea only have two injuries in the form of Ashley Cole and Marc van Ginkel, the former being in with a chance to make the team at the weekend but we will have to wait for Mourinho’s press conference for confirmation. Samuel Eto’o is also likely to make his return to the starting lineup after missing out during the week.
Stoke are also in good condition with only Robert Huth and on-loan Liverpool player, Oussama Assaidi, missing out through injury.
- Chelsea have not lost any league games at home during Mourinho’s spells as manager, winning 60 and drawing 16.
- The Blues have dropped just eight points from the last 75 available at home in the league.
- Mourinho’s side have allowed just 99 shots against them this season, the fewest in the league.
- Stoke City defeated Chelsea 3-2 in the first game between the two earlier this season, the first time in 11 Premier League meetings with the London side.
- Peter Odemwingie has scored in three successive league games for the first time since 2011.
- At 417, Stoke have committed more fouls than any other team in the league this season.
Hazard has been Chelsea’s best player and would likely be the favourite for Player of the Year if Luis Suarez wasn’t also in the running. The Belgian has created 87 chances for his team mates this season, making seven assists (six from open play) in the process. This means that he is creating a chance every 31 minutes on average and it doesn’t include the nine clear-cut chances that he has created. Of course, Hazard’s contribution has not only been a creative one this season but also his goal scoring. The winger has scored 14 goals in the league and has achieved this from 49 shots at goal. As 31 of these were on target, it means that Hazard has a shooting accuracy of 63%. He may only have a chance conversion rate of 29% but this is an exception when you compare it to his clear-cut chance conversion rate of 58%. He has come in for some criticism from Chelsea fans this week, but there is no doubting the fact that he is a very dangerous player as far as Stoke are concerned.
Odemwingie has been enjoying a new lease of life since moving to Stoke in January. The Nigerian has scored four goals in nine appearances, three of which have been in the last three games. He has attempted 12 shots at goal of which eight have been on target, meaning that he has a shooting accuracy of 67%. He may only have a chance conversion rate of 33% but like Hazard, this isn’t as bad when you compare it with his 50% clear-cut chance conversion rate. Odemwingie hasn’t appeared to have helped out in any way creatively speaking. He has only created three chances for his team mates and as a result, he has not been able to make any assists. He has only attempted eight crosses and has been unsuccessful in all of these attempts, however, this could be due to the fact that Hughes does not use him in this way. Despite this, he is in good form just now and the Chelsea defence will have to be war of this on Saturday.
I really can’t look beyond Chelsea in this game. Stoke have something to play for but the pressure is on Chelsea to keep themselves in the title race and not allow Liverpool and Manchester City to push ahead of them. Besides, Mourinho’s record at home seems ironclad and I can’t see Stoke breaking this. In my opinion, it will finish 2-0 to Chelsea.