Chelsea will be looking to reinforce their lead at the top of the Premier League as they host Stoke at Stamford Bridge (3pm BST, Saturday, Sept 22).
Chelsea are a point clear of Manchester United and Roberto Di Matteo would fancy his chances of getting back to winning ways after two draws.
Chelsea could only manage a draw against London rivals QPR last weekend in a tense and edgy game. The game itself was always going to be full of niggle and aggression after the on-going saga between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand. Yet again Ferdinand failed to shake the hand of the England defender.
After sweeping through their first three matches against Wigan, Newcastle and Reading, Chelsea looked lacklustre. The impressive Eden Hazard was unable to cause the same problems to the QPR defence that he had managed in the three previous matches. Without Hazard firing, Chelsea looked flat and yet again failed to get Fernando Torres into the game. The problem for Chelsea is that Torres is their only real striker. If he underperforms then Chelsea can only rely on goals from their midfielders.
Hazard has been far and away Chelsea’s best player this season, but in midweek it was the turn of Chelsea’s other summer recruit to steal the headlines. Oscar arrived at Chelsea late due to his commitments with the Brazilian Olympic side and Roberto Di Matteo had waited for the best moment to introduce their young superstar.
He came with a huge reputation and he only enhanced that with a magnificent display against Juventus in Chelsea’s opening Champions League match on Wednesday night. In the space of two first half minutes, Oscar fired in two right-footed thunderbolts past Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to send Stamford Bridge into hysteria. The second was an unbelievable effort but Chelsea only drew the match. Oscar is sure to make his Premier League debut in this match.
Stoke arrive at Stamford Bridge off the back of four consecutive Premier League draws. Tony Pulis’ side have looked consistently solid, and in picking up draws against both Arsenal and Manchester City they have once again proved themselves. As tough as Stoke are to beat, the stats are against them. In eight previous League encounters, Chelsea have never lost to Stoke and all four of Chelsea’s home games have resulted in home victories.
Stoke will be without defender Andy Wilkinson, after he received a three-match ban following an off the ball clash with Mario Balotelli.
Chelsea v Stoke Betting Tips Verdict
If Stoke are to get anything from Stamford Bridge then they will need Peter Crouch to cause havoc among the Chelsea defence. As long as John Terry and Gary Cahill are organised in the centre of the Chelsea defence then Stoke should not get a sniff. If Stoke are content to sit back and look for a draw then it could be a long afternoon for them with Mata, Torres, Hazard and Oscar up front.