By 90Min
September 22, 2017

Stoke City and Chelsea face-off in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, as both sides looks for a crucial three points in what is proving to be a highly competitive season.

The hosts are without a win in over a month, but their 2-2 draw with Manchester United showed that they can cause the big boys some real problems on their home turf - as was also showcased in their 1-0 victory over Arsenal in August.

Chelsea head into the match in fine form, having not lost a match since the opening day of the season. Since then, the Blues have claimed the scalps of Spurs, Everton and Leicester City, as well as producing two high-scoring cup matches to boost squad morale.

Here's all you need to know ahead of the big game at the bet365 Stadium:


Classic Encounter:

Scott Heavey/GettyImages

As is often the case with the Premier League big boys, Chelsea have by and large struggled on their trips to Stoke City's intimidating stadium. Indeed, the Blues have lost in three of their last five visits to the bet365 Stadium.

In December 2013, the two sides played out an epic encounter, with the hosts running out 3-2 winners. The heated affair saw Stoke beat the Blues in the dying seconds of the game, with former Liverpool flop Oussama Assaidi making himself the hero with a last minute strike.

A classic Andre Schurrle low-drive gave the Blues the lead early on, before Stoke City beanpole Peter Crouch equalised before half-time with a clinical finish. Buoyed by their fine finish to the first-half, Stoke then took the lead with an exquisite Stephen Ireland curled effort.

Mourinho's men hit back quickly, with the impressive Schurrle unleashing a devastating 20-yard half-volley to draw level. In the dying seconds of the game, Assaidi assured his name in the headlines with an angled shot hammered into the top corner beyond Petr Čech.


Recent Form:

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The hosts are without a win in over a month, but have maintained their stadium's reputation as somewhat of a fortress with a crucial 1-0 win over Arsenal and a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Manchester United so far this season.

However, the Potters have looked abject in their games against lesser sides, labouring to a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion and being outclassed by a weak Newcastle United side last weekend in a 2-1 loss.

Chelsea have come along way from their opening day defeat to Burnley, winning a succession of tricky fixtures since. Last weekend's 0-0 draw with Arsenal may have dented Antonio Conte's side's confidence, as they appeared defensively vulnerable and a touch uninspired going forward on occasions.

The Blues' 6-0 thrashing of Qarabag and the 5-1 whitewash of Nottingham Forest in the cup competitions have proven the side's ability to score goals, and they will be looking do the same against Stoke on Saturday.


Team News

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Stoke City may be forced to recall Ryan Shawcross sooner than they had planned for the match, as loanee Kurt Zouma is unable to play against his parent club. The club captain has been recovering from a back injury, but could be risked against the Blues on Saturday.

Stephen Ireland, Julien Ngoy and Ibrahim Afellay remain of the treatment table for the Potters.

Chelsea will be without revitalised defender David Luiz for the game, as the fiery Brazilian is suspended following a robust challenge on Sean Kolašinac last weekend. Danny Drinkwater remains out with a calf strain, and is unlikely to make his Blues debut for at least a month.

The big question on Chelsea fans' lips is whether club talisman Eden Hazard will return to the starting lineup for the game, and Conte is rumoured to be prepared to start the Belgian after an impressive midweek ninety minute showing in the League Cup - continuing his rehabilitation from summer ankle surgery.


Potential Stoke City Starting Lineup: Butland; Shawcross; Martins Indi; Wimmer; Diouf; Allen; Fletcher; Pieters; Shaqiri; Jesé; Choupo-Moting


Potential Chelsea Starting Lineup: Courtois; Azpilicueta; Cahill; Rüdiger; Moses; Kanté; Fàbregas; Alonso; Willian; Morata; Hazard 


Prediction

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Stoke have come along way from the 'meat 'n potatoes' football they used to churn out under previous boss Tony Pulis. Mark Hughes' side have the technically gifted players necessary to be a real handful against Chelsea on Saturday, and will look to continue their impressive home record against the Blues.

However, Chelsea are in excellent form, and their resilient victories against Spurs and Leicester City away from home have showcased their ability to do the job on their travels. If Hazard plays, he could have a great deal of success against Stoke striker-cum-wing-back Mame Diouf, and give his side a hatful of goalscoring opportunities.

The host's supporters will make Chelsea feel about as welcome as a screaming toddler on a long-haul flight, and could well take an early lead if the Conte's side are not carefu, but the Blues should have enough grit to see off the plucky Potters and claim the three points.

Prediction: Stoke City 1-2 Chelsea

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