Everybody seems to be revelling in Chelsea’s misfortune. Eleven points from eleven games is their worst points tally at this stage of a Premier League season, surpassing their previous low of 13 in both 1992 and 1993. It is the worst defence of a Premier League title since its inception (Blackburn Rovers managed 14 points from 11 games in 1995). To make matters worse, they have already let in more goals then they did in the whole of their title-winning campaign of 2005. Mourinho’s men have also crashed out of the Capital One Cup, a trophy they won back in March. Who was responsible? Stoke City. The Blues will be out for revenge when they return to the Britannia Stadium this weekend.
Stoke’s results haven’t been a great deal better than those of the champions; they have certainly been inconsistent. Away wins at Villa and Swansea were cancelled out by home defeats to West Brom and Watford. A 0-0 draw at St James’ Park last time out has shed no light on whether The Potters can expect to find themselves in a relegation dogfight or mid-table mediocrity. After big name signings in the summer, the fans may be disappointed with the latter, let alone the former.
The pair clash live on Sky Sports at 17.30 on Saturday.
Chelsea have dominated this fixture in recent years. Since Stoke’s promotion to the top flight in 2008, Chelsea have won 13 out of a possible 17, losing just twice. A 7-0 win at Stamford Bridge in 2010 is the standout result for the Blues. Salomon Kalou bagged a hat-trick that day, would he get in this struggling Chelsea squad?
A win for Chelsea will see them leapfrog Stoke. They could move up to 12th. I didn’t think I’d be saying that this far into the season.
One man who will be missing for the visitors is the gaffer. After being sent to the stands by referee John Moss in his side’s loss to West Ham on October 24th, José Mourinho was issued a £40,000 fine and one game stadium ban.
As for the players on the pitch, Thibaut Courtois is the only notable absentee. Radamel Falcao is a doubt after picking up a muscle injury, but can he be classed as ‘notable’?
For the home side, Geoff Cameron, Marc Muniesa and Marco van Ginkel are all set to miss out.
Jack Butland – Butland has been one of the shining lights for Mark Hughes’ side this season. Since the departure of Asmir Begovic to this weekend’s opponents, the England international has prospered in his new role as first choice ‘keeper. Hero in the penalty shootout against Chelsea, the former Birmingham City man did his reputation no harm with a solid display against Newcastle last weekend. He has the most saves in the top-flight so far this campaign (46), and will have to be on top of his game again if he is to keep Chelsea at bay.
John Terry – Robbie Savage will be scrutinising the Chelsea skipper’s weekend performance with renewed vigour following comments made by Terry in a press conference on Tuesday. The defender said he was ‘happy to take criticism from the very best’ but not from the former Wales midfielder as he had ‘played at a really bad level for his whole career.’ Claws away, John! The former England captain has taken some stick recently, with his unconvincing performances contributing to Chelsea’s slump. After the 3-1 loss at home to Liverpool, Terry, and centre-back partner Gary Cahill, will have to sort themselves out before they face the likes of Bojan and Shaqiri.
It really would be panic stations for Mourinho if his side fail to win on Saturday evening. That said, I think they will get the three points. The lethargy and lack of confidence in the side is cause for concern, but Chelsea played well here in the Capital One Cup and were unlucky to go out after being the better side in the second half.
Stoke City 1-2 Chelsea