Completing the look ahead to this weekend’s game at the Bridge, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are joined by ex-player Clive Walker…
Can Chelsea return to winning ways against a stubborn Stoke side who have already stifled Manchester City and Arsenal this season? Here are the views of former Blues winger Clive Walker.
‘After three games without a win Robbie Di Matteo will be pressing for a win to keep us top of the table.
‘You saw again in midweek that we are changing as a team and there are usually teething problems during a transition. Some of our forward play has been terrific, really exciting. Stoke will be aiming to stop us play first and foremost though.
‘I’m interested by Tony Pulis’s signings the last few seasons. You see the likes of Charlie Adam, Steven Nzonzi and Michael Owen being brought in and you think that’s a long way from the type of player they used a few years back, the ones who were tall and very dangerous in the box from long throws.
‘That served them well and Pulis deserves credit for seeing the bigger picture and the game has changed – Rory Delap wasn’t going to last forever.
‘He has gradually added players who can pass to the usual mix of direct football and strength at set plays. He is looking for quick wide players to put the ball into the box.
‘Peter Crouch has still been their most effective player this season, scoring half of their league goals. They have scored just four, though, which is possibly where their main problem lies.
‘They have drawn all three Premier League games so far, and plenty of managers will tell you “it’s the draws that hurt you” – losing one then winning one gives you three points, whereas two draws bring just two.
‘Owen has obviously been brought in to add goals, but the one minute he had as a sub against Man City last weekend is his only competitive action this calendar year. From that standpoint I cannot see him starting at the Bridge.
‘With any Pulis team, though, you always know you will have to work hard to earn the right to play your football. City and Arsenal found that out and dropped two points at the Britannia. Each of Mancini’s men probably cost four times what their opposite number did, but Stoke are well organised and physically and mentally strong.
‘While 1-1 against the champions was a great result for Stoke they are a different proposition on the road compared with at home.Their supporters are immense, a real strength.
‘I think at what is a tough ground for them they will look first and foremost at how to stifle Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, who both looked bright and inventive against Juventus. Tony Pulis knows to have a chance of taking anything away from this match he’s got to stop us playing.
‘We saw with Oscar what a talent he is for the future. He is looking so bright, but it will take a lot for that to happen every week, especially against sides like Stoke. This will be a tough, tough match.
‘In previous years Stoke have set themselves out in a 4-4-2 formation, meaning we had the extra body in midfield. But with those new midfielders they have been playing 4-5-1 with Crouch alone upfront recently. They usually adopt a safety-first approach away from home and would be delighted with another draw.
‘I still think with the attacking midfielders we have we can hurt them in the final third and cause problems for their centre-backs with our quick passing and movement.
‘Andy Wilkinson is suspended after video evidence of him elbowing Balotelli, and he had been one of Pulis’s real ever-presents. He has a few replacements available, such as the American lad Geoff Cameron, or switching Robert Huth, the former Chelsea centre-back. He may be loath to break up the central partnership of Huth and Ryan Shawcross (pictured below), though, because they’ve looked pretty solid so far this season. It could be an issue for them.
‘I think Robbie Di Matteo will want to freshen things up again on Saturday. You have to say the surprise choice of putting Oscar on Pirlo was an absolutely inspired one and worked a treat, but we have to see if the young man is fit after a nasty stamp on his ankle. What a goal that second one was! He gave the whole ground a lift and was a joy to watch throughout.
‘I wonder whether Victor Moses might be given his home debut after he did so well as a sub at QPR. You’d like to think he could take on their full-backs and shake things up.
‘We may start with Ryan Bertrand again – he links so well down the left where Wilkinson would usually be.
‘If they do come to defend it’s important we have the potential to change things around upfront, so I hope Danny Sturridge is fit. Other than that it’s about patience: I doubt this will be a high scoring affair.
‘We have been making a few costly errors in defensive midfield and at the back and I wonder if Robbie will try a few different options there too. He may think Gary Cahill, against a big team like Stoke, could provide a little more solidity.
‘You always want to have some height where possible against Stoke though, because they still are a force at set plays even though the long throws are pretty much a thing of the past.
‘Another clean sheet would be nice – and I think if we achieve that we scoop all three points.’
Marko Marin is close to a return to the squad following his hamstring trouble but this game comes too soon. Daniel Sturridge is a doubt having missed the Juventus game due to a tight hamstring. Oscar has recovered from the knock he received midweek.
Stoke midfielder Jamie Ness could return from a groin injury. Andy Wilkinson is banned.
Chelsea have won 11 of our last 13 games at Stamford Bridge. Newcastle are the only team to have won here in that time, with Tottenham gaining a point in a goalless draw.
|Aug 19||Wigan (a)||W 2-0|
|Aug 22||Reading (h)||W 4-2|
|Aug 25||Newcastle (h)||W 2-0|
|Aug 31||Atlético Madrid (Uefa Super Cup)||L 1-4|
|Sep 15||QPR (a)||D 0-0|
|Sep 19||Juventus (Champions League h)||D 2-2|
Premier League scorers
Ivanovic 2, Lampard 2 (2 pens), Torres 2, Cahill 1, Hazard 1 (pen). Total 8.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 6
A home defeat: 3
|Tue 25 Sep||Wolves (Capital One Cup) home||7.45pm|
|Sat 29 Sep||Arsenal away||12.45pm|
|Tue 2 Oct||Nordsjælland (Champions League) away||7.45pm|
Frank Lampard is one goal away from equalling our all-time league scorer in top-flight matches Bobby Tambling with 129 goals. He is currently level with Roy Bentley with 128.
John Terry needs one goal to reach 50 in all competitions for the Blues.
Congratulations to Oriol Romeu who celebrates his 21st birthday on Monday.
1 League Cup in 1972
Stoke’s best seasons in the top flight were in 1935/36 and 1946/47 when they finished fourth. The Potters last and only major trophy was the League Cup in 1972 when as underdogs; they defeated Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley.
The Potters have only won one of the 16 games in all competitions since they lost at Stamford Bridge in March. They haven’t won an away Barclays Premier League game since their 2-1 victory at Blackburn on 2 January.
Stoke have drawn eight of their last 10 league matches.
They have only gained three points from the last 18 available away from The Britannia Stadium.
Manager Tony Pulis
Days in charge: 2,291
|2002/03||50||21st||League Division One||2|
|2003/04||66||11th||League Division One||2|
|Aug 18||Reading (a)||D 1-1|
|Aug 26||Arsenal (h)||D 0-0|
|Aug 28||Swindon (League Cup 2)||L 3-4|
|Sep 1||Wigan (a)||D 2-2|
|Sep 15||Manchester City (h)||D 1-1|
Premier League scorers
Crouch 2, Kightly 1, Walters 1 (pen). Total 4.
League games since
An away win: 11
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 2
Ins Charlie Adam (Liverpool, £4m), Michael Kightly (Wolves, £2m), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo, undisclosed), Maurice Edu (Rangers, undisclosed), Jamie Ness (Rangers, free), Steven Nzonzi (Blackburn, undisclosed), Michael Owen (unattached).
Outs Jonathan Woodgate (Middlesbrough, free), Danny Collins (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed), Florent Cuvelier (Walsall, loan), Ryan Brunt (Leyton Orient, loan), Andrew Davies (Bradford City, free), Salif Diao (released), Ricardo Fuller (Charlton, free), Louis Moult (Northampton, free), Thomas Soares (released).
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Twenty-seven-year-old Michael Oliver is refereeing his second Chelsea match. His first was the match against Bolton at Stamford Bridge last season.
Stoke’s Andy Wilkinson is suspended (first of three matches).