Chelsea vs Stoke City
26 January 2014
Stamford Bridge, London
Subs: Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Mikel, Ramires, Willian, Ba.
Juan Mata’s departure from Chelsea has dominated headlines in the last few days so much that it has put our FA Cup clash with Stoke City a non-existent affair. However, Mata is now history as far as Chelsea is concerned and focus returns to football.
The fourth round clash at Stamford Bridge is expected to be a tightly fought encounter given that it was only a few weeks ago that Chelsea lost to Stoke at the Britannia stadium.
The 3-2 defeat will still be fresh in the minds of Chelsea players. Stoke come into the match with almost an identical form – one win in the last five. Mark Hughes’ teams, though, seem to raise their game against the big teams. Recent form, therefore, should not be a factor in judging the strength of the opponent.
Fernando Torres has been ruled out for the next three weeks due to the injury he sustained in the 3-1 win over Manchester United. Apart from it, Mourinho has a full strength squad at his disposal. Matic could make his debut after featuring as a substitute against United.
The league encounter against West Ham on Thursday could make Mourinho rest a couple of his star names. Eto’o, Hazard, and Ramires could be among them.
Robert Huth, Andy Wilkinson, Asmir Begovic, and Matthew Etherington are the Stoke players to miss out. All four are crucial names for Hughes, and their absence is likely to help Chelsea.
Chelsea (4-2 -3-1): Schwarzer, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Matic, Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard, Ba
Stoke City (4-2-3-1): Butland, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, N’Zonzi, Palacios, Walters, Ireland, Arnautovic, Crouch
Chelsea are given odds of 1/4 to win by popular bookmakers like bet365 and Paddy Power. After having failed to win any of their last six matches in West London, Stoke are 11/1 to win. Paddy Power gives odds of 6/1 for a draw – one of the highest.
A 1-0, 2-0, and 2-1 Chelsea win have been given the highest odds.Chelsea win 1/4 Chelsea draw 5/1Stoke win 11/1
Chelsea 2-0 Stoke
One can expect a professional display from the blues, which should be enough to put us in the FA Cup fifth round.