Two defeats in three games has turned the heat back up for Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez. After a weakened team lost at home to QPR in the league, defensive errors and a toothless attack allowed Swansea to claim a 2-0 win in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final. There is also continued speculation about the future of club stalwarts Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry.
The pressure is on Fernando Torres as well, new signing Demba Ba posing far more threat to Swansea after replacing the Spaniard for the final ten minutes. The physical presence Ba brings to a team could see him selected to start against Stoke.
Stoke are unbeaten at home since February 2012, although it took a Cameron Jerome spectacular to preserve that record against Southampton. Stoke will hope Kenwyne Jones continues his good run of form, the Trinidadian striker having scored three times in the team’s last six games.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS...
Chelsea 1 (Cole) Stoke 0, Premier League, September 2012
Chelsea 1 (Drogba) Stoke 0, Premier League, March 2012
Stoke 0 Chelsea 0, Premier League, August 2011
Chelsea have 40 wins against Stoke, while Stoke have won 27 of their meetings and 21 have been draws.
Stoke’s last victory against Chelsea came in the League Cup in October 1995, Paul Peschisolido scoring the only goal of the game.
Stoke’s last home league defeat was inflicted by Sunderland on 4 February 2012.
Ashley Cole has not scored for Chelsea since netting his late winner against Stoke in September.
Demba Ba scored a hat-trick for Newcastle at the Britannia Stadium in October 2011.
Stoke to win: 4.3
Chelsea to win: 2.02
Chelsea put seven past Stoke at Stamford Bridge in April 2010 as part of their march towards the Premier League title. Salomon Kalou scored a hat-trick and Frank Lampard a brace, before Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda added further goals. Afterwards, Stoke manager Tony Pulis said: “They were far the better team, we were lucky to get nil. We had our pants pulled down and our backsides slapped.”
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.30pm.