Premier League leaders Chelsea return into action on domestic stage following the entertaining 2-2 draw against Juventus, with the Blues hoping to keep their advantage over title rivals by beating Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.
The Potters are still unbeaten this season, having recorded four straight draws at the start of the league campaign, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the fifth successive stalemate.
Boosted by the Champions League triumph as well as the arrival of quality signings, Chelsea enjoyed a bright start to the season, with 10 points from first 4 games proving enough for a place at the Premiership summit.
The heavy defeat to Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup match acted as a major blow to the players’ confidence, but solid showing against Italian giants Juventus was certainly a step in the right direction.
The Blues looked to be cruising to victory after Oscar’s brace put them 2-0 up, but the Bianconeri returned into the game and ended up taking one point back to Turin.
With the game against Stoke coming just three days after the difficult Champions League clash, Roberto Di Matteo is set to make some changes to the starting line-up, which is why odds of 1.36 (4/11) offered at Bodog on home win do not look too tempting.
Daniel Sturridge remains doubtful through injury, while Oscar should not be risked after picking up an ankle injury against Juventus.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech – Azpilicueta, Luiz, Terry, Bertrand- Lampard, Mikel – Ramires, Mata, Hazard – Torres.
Even before the season started everybody knew Stoke were one of the toughest teams to beat, but to see them record four straight draws was something that nobody could expect.
In all fairness, Tony Pulis has made a real splash in the transfer market, which was completely uncharacteristic of him, but the likes of Michael Kightly, Geoff Cameron, Charlie Adam, Steven N’Zonzi and Michael Owen significantly improved the quality of the side.
The Potters may be sitting in the bottom half of the standings at the moment, but considering they played host to Arsenal and City, while traveling to Reading and Wigan, four points can be seen as a remarkable result.
It remains to be seen whether Stoke can avoid defeat in their fifth successive game, but you have to admit odds of 5.00 (4/1) offered on draw at Ladbrokes look pretty appealing.
Andy Wilkinson starts the first of his three-match ban, while Mamady Sidibe and Jamie Ness continue to miss out.
Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): Begovic – Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson – N’Zonzi, Whelan, Adam, Kightly – Crouch, Walters.