Stoke City and Chelsea square off in what is set to be a fiercely contested Premier League match on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts go into the game on a rotten run of form, having failed to win a Premier League game since their shock 1-0 victory over Arsenal at the beginning of the league campaign. However, their 2-2 home draw with Manchester United will give them much hope going into this match.
The away side are in buoyant mood, having stayed unbeaten since their shock opening day loss to Burnley. Chelsea have since beaten the likes of Spurs and Leicester City on their travels, and will confident of another three points on the road this weekend.
With both side’s boasting an array of talented stars, here are four key clashes that could decide Saturday’s clash…
4. N’Golo Kanté vs Joe Allen
Welsh midfield maestro Joe Allen will be looking to pick holes in Chelsea’s midfield on Saturday, and N’Golo Kante will need to be at the top of his game to thwart the playmaker’s efforts.
Kante is renowned for his ability to snuff out the beginnings of his opponents attacking moves, and Allen will need to step his game up a gear if he is to successfully outwit the French midfield engine.
3. Eden Hazard vs Mame Biram Diouf
Fans favourite Eden Hazard could well make his first Premier League start of the season on Saturday, and will be looking to run rings around the hosts’ makeshift wing-back Mame Biram Diouf.
Diouf has both a physical and aerial advantage over Hazard, but Conte will looking to exploit the Senegalese star’s lack of defensive nous and tackling ability, instructing Hazard to dazzle Diouf with his dribbling abilities.
Hazard could well have a lot of joy on the left wing for Chelsea on Saturday, while Diouf will need to be at his best to stop the talented Belgian.
2. Xherdan Shaqiri vs Marcos Alonso
While he may not be able to boast the talents possessed by Eden Hazard, Xherdan Shaqiri will offer a similar threat to the Chelsea defence as the Belgian will pose to the Potters’ back-line.
The Swiss sensation is a technically gifted footballer, and will be trying all the tricks in the book to outwit Chelsea wing-back Marcos Alonso on Saturday.
Alonso has excelled for the Blues since joining them last summer, and has worked admirably to shake-off his ‘panic buy’ status. The Spaniard will need to be at his defensive best on Saturday, as Shaqiri’s silky skills could leave him tangled in knots if he isn’t careful.
1. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting vs César Azpilicueta
Arguably one of the Premier League’s best bargain buys of the summer, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (the player who you’d need a sizeable mortgage to get printed on the back of your shirt) will be looking to bully the Chelsea defence on Saturday, and César Azpilicueta could be his unlucky target.
Azipilicueta remains one of the most overlooked players in the Chelsea squad, and has performed admirably since making the switched to central defender under Conte. Azpilicueta has enjoyed forays up the field in recent games, and will need to be at his disciplined best to keep Choupo-Moting at bay on Saturday.