Thursday, 31 March 2011

Stoke City vs Chelsea : EPL Clash [ PREVIEW ]

When these two sides last met at Stamford Bridge back in August, Chelsea were coming to face Stoke City on the bank of two 6-0 wins, and also a 8-0 win over Wigan in the last day of last season, which saw Chelsea claim their fourth title. But things have changed and Chelsea slipped to a mid season slump and had even fears of loosing out on Champions League next season. But with new signings and two important victories over two Manchester clubs have revived their title bid once again, and Chelsea have moved to the third place in the Barclays English Premier League Table.


So this match is among the 9 matches which Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti have said are important to prove they can reclaim their zenith.

Last time at the Britannia Stadium, Chelsea won 2-1, thanks to an injury time winner by Florent Malouda. Stoke City's Abdoulaye Faye fired his side into a 32nd minute lead, which was cancelled out by Didier Drogba's 45th minute equaliser. But Florent Malouda stealed an injury time win for Chelsea.

Date: Sep 12, 2009

Stoke City: Sorensen, Huth, Faye, Shawcross, Collins, Wilkinson,
Whitehead, Whelan, Delap, Kitson, Beattie

Chelsea: Cech, Terry, Ivanovic, Cole, Bosingwa, Mikel, Lampard,
Ballack, Malouda, Drogba, Kalou

Substitutions


Stoke City

Fuller for Beattie (12')
Simonsen for Sorensen (41')
Sanli for Kitson (66')

Chelsea

Anelka for Kalou (64')
Essien for Ballack (65')
Beletti for Mikel (83')

Scorers

Stoke City

Abdoulaye Faye (32')

Chelsea

Didier Drogba (45')
Florent Malouda (90')

Chelsea have the most fresh squad in England, by the time they will face Stoke. With no players are sidelined as both long term absentees Alex and Yossi Benayoun are back, Chelsea have the whole squad to
choose players from for the first time this season. Bennayoun returned and was a part of both Israel matches in the International matches. Though, he was an unused sub in the first match, he did came off the bench in the 2nd match in the final 20 minutes. Alex, though returned, was not a part of the match day squad against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. With Luiz playing with a scintallating form at Chelsea, many wont bet Alex to return to his starting place at the heart of defence alongside John Terry. And with a massive midweek Champions League tie coming this week against Manchester United, Alex will be prefered to rest by Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti. But if Benayoun comes off the bench, Chelsea fans can expect the 1st goal from Fernando Torres. Carlo Ancelotti should probably go for a changed formation. He can recall Ferreira, Zhirkov, Mikel and Drogba for his starting line up, as he wants to keep his squad fresh before the Champions League tie. Though Bosingwa can also be favoured in place of Ferreira.

Trivia: Fernando Torres has not scored for 7 games since his £50 m move from Chelsea, while Drogba has not also netted for 9 games; Drogba's last game came against Bolton at the Reebok back in January.

Stoke City have some injury concerns though. They have players such as John Carew, Abdoulaye Faye and Mohammed Sidibe already sidelined. But still have a strong squad to choose from, and they are buoyed by the fact for reaching the Wembley for the FA Cup semi final clash against Bolton Wanderers. And Tony Pulis' side will try to maintain their good momentum. So Stoke City is expected to keep their winning formula against Newcastle whom they thrashed 4-0 last match.


Probable Line Ups

Stoke City

(4-4-2)

 1 Asmir Begovic
 4 Robert Huth
 17 Ryan Shawcross
 3 Danny Higginbotham
12 Marc Wilson
24 Rory Delap
 6  Glenn Whelan
26 Matthew Etherington
16 Jermaine Pennant
 9 Kenwyne Jones
19 Jonathan Walters

Chelsea

(4-1-3-2)

1 Petr Cech
19 Paulo Ferreira
4 David Luiz
26  John Terry
 3 Ashley Cole
12 John Obi Mikel
 7 Ramires
 8 Frank Lampard
18 Yuri Zhirkov
21 Salomon Kalou
11 Didier Drogba

Substitutes

10 Ricardo Fuller
18 Dean Whitehead
29 Thomas Sorensen
15 Salif Diao
28 Andy Wilkinson
 5 Danny Collins
14 Danny Pugh

Chelsea

23 Ross Turnbull
17 Jose Bosingwa
39 Nicolas Anelka
 9 Fernando Torres
 2 Branislav Ivanovic
 5 Michael Essien
10 Yossi Benayoun

Head-to-head

At Stoke City

Stoke City 1-2 Chelsea (Sep 12, 2009) FA Premier League
Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea (Sep 27, 2008) FA Premier League
Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea (Feb 16, 2003) FA Cup

At Chelsea

Chelsea 2-0 Stoke City (28 Aug 2010) FA Premier League
Chelsea 7-0 Stoke City (25 April 2010) FA Premier League
Chelsea 2-0 Stoke City ( 7 March 2010) FA Cup

Form Guide

Stoke City: WLDLL
Chelsea :    WWWDL

Key Stat: If Chelsea wins today, it wil be their second longest winning streak of the season with 4 straight wins(They started the season with 5 straight wins)

Prediction: According to BetBrain, the odds at the full time score is at 5.88 for a home win, 1.73 for a away win, and the draw at 3.82. Correct score's at full time odds are at 7.00, 8.00, 8.25 for 0-1, 1-1, 0-2 respectively. And the first goal is expected to score by Didier Drogba and the odds are at 5.50.

Written By : Pradipta Ghosh
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