Chelsea can move back into first with a win at Stamford Bridge, but they’ll need to beat an impressive Stoke City side to do so (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra).
Stoke reached the Premier League’s magical 40-point mark last weekend, with six games to spare. More impressively, the Potters did so by going unbeaten in their last five outings, grabbing thirteen out of fifteen points available. With Chelsea’s recent losses to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace proving that they’re vulnerable, do Stoke have a chance in London?
It likely depends on which Blues side shows up. Will it be the one that ran wild against Arsenal just two weeks ago, recording a 6-0 win? Or will it the side more closely resemble the recent road squad, the rather dismal Chelsea that turned up at Villa Park, Selhurst Park and, most recently, the Parc des Princes?
Fernando Torres gets a chance to prove himself once more, as with Samuel Eto’o out with injury it’s the Spaniard that gets the nod up front. Eden Hazard starts on the bench, as does Oscar – does José Mourinho really think his side will dispense with Stoke that easily?
Mark Hughes makes just one change from the side that beat Hull City 1-0 last week. It’s Wilson Palacios in for Stephen Ireland, with the formation shifting to what looks to be a 4-5-1.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Lampard, Willian, Schurrle, Salah, Torres
Subs: Schwarzer, Kalas, Cole, David Luiz, Oscar, Hazard, Ba
Stoke City: Begivic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Odemwingie, Whelan, Palacios, Nzonzi, Arnautovic; Crouch
Subs: Sorensen; Wilkinson, Muniesa, Adam, Guidetti, Walters, Etherington