After dropping points at home to Arsenal for the first time since 2011, Chelsea will now look to bounce back as they travel to the Bet365.com Stadium to face Stoke City on Saturday.
Stoke City have had a pretty average start to the season, but have been strong at home. They’ve had about as hard of a start to their home schedule as they could, facing Arsenal then Manchester United, but they have got four points from their first two home matches with a win against Arsenal and a draw against Manchester United. Those results and performances will give them reason to believe they can get something against Chelsea.
Chelsea will have to be wary of Stoke since it seems like, after no wins against the top six last season, they’ve rediscovered the way to make things hard for big teams at home. That said, it may be early, but Chelsea have started the season better away from home than they have at Stamford Bridge. Both games in which they’ve dropped points were at home, with a loss to Burnley and a draw against Arsenal, while they’ve won both their away games, including a win against Tottenham. Their strong start away from home along with the fact that they are a better football team will make Chelsea rightfully feel that anything other than a win in this match is a disappointment.
Stoke City will be without Julian N’Goy, Stephen Ireland, Geoff Cameron, and Ibrahim Affeley through various injuries.
Chelsea will be without Danny Drinkwater, but they will hopefully have Pedro fit as physioroom.com also lists him as a slight doubt.
Stoke City: Maxim Choupo-Moting
For all the splashes Stoke have made over the last few seasons, the free transfer of Choupo-Moting has arguably started better than all of them. It is very very early and this is an extremely small sample size, but Choupo-Moting has been taking 3.8 shots per 90 minutes. Those are some very good numbers and are ninth in the league so far, among players with at least 300 minutes played, with all eight players ahead of him playing in a top six team. He is yet to take fewer than three shots in a league game in which he started. He has been their most dangerous attacking player this season and will look to attack Chelsea’s back line on Saturday.
Chelsea: Cesc Fabregas
Chelsea’s midfield options are limited, especially when it comes to creativity. That makes Cesc Fabregas surprisingly important, considering his role last season. With Drinkwater still injured, N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko are Chelsea’s only other two central midfield options. Those two played as a two in midfield seriously lacks ball progression and creativity, so Fabregas is very necessary. His creativity is needed, but he also makes the team significantly worse without the ball. It’s an interesting conundrum, but, off the ball concerns aside, is needed for Chelsea to click.
Chelsea will likely need to break down a deep defense, which they sometimes struggle with, but they should still win. Stoke will pose a tough test, but Chelsea are used to those and should be able to come through it.
Prediction: 2-1 Chelsea