Good evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for tonight's League Cup fourth round clash between Stoke City
and Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium. Both teams are looking to bounce back from defeats in the Premier League at the weekend, but it feels like a particularly important night for Jose Mourinho
as speculation continues to rage over his future at the club. Let's start with a look at the two teams who will be on show this evening...
STOKE STARTING XI: Butland; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Muniesa; Diouf, Whelan, Afellay, Adam, Arnautovic; Walters
STOKE SUBS: Given, Ireland, Odemwingie, Wilson, Sidwell, Shaqiri, Crouch
CHELSEA STARTING XI: Begovic; Zouma, Cahill, Terry, Baba; Ramires, Mikel; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Diego Costa
CHELSEA SUBS: Amelia, Djilobodji, Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Traore, Kenedy, Remy
What can we make of those two sides, then? Well the headline as far as Stoke are concerned surrounds the welcome return of captain Ryan Shawcross, who finally makes his first appearance of the season tonight. The centre-back has been sidelined for the entire campaign so far after undergoing back surgery, but he is fully fit once again now and deemed ready to start tonight's match alongside Wollscheid in defence.
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He is one of six changes overall from the weekend defeat to Watford, and three of those come in the defence. In addition to Shawcross's return, Phil Bardsley
and Marc Muniesa also return in the back four, with the latter having overcome a thigh injury to replace the suspended Erik Pieters at left-back. On the opposite side of the defence, Bardsley comes in for Glen Johnson, while Geoff Cameron is the man to make way for Shawcross having picked up an injury against Watford.
Elsewhere, there is a return for Mame Biram Diouf after he had missed time through compassionate leave and, while the lineup Stoke have submitted appears to have him on the right side of three behind the striker, it could well be the case that he spends most of his time leading the line or at least swapping with Walters, who is another of the changes made by Mark Hughes
for tonight's game.
Afellay is the final change in the starting XI, with summer signing Xherdan Shaqiri among those to drop to the bench. Bojan also drops out of the starting lineup, but there is no place for the Spaniard on the bench tonight as he looks to recover from a toe injury. The in-form Marko Arnautovic is the only one of that trio behind the striker to keep his place from the side that drew a blank against Watford.
As for Chelsea, there is a notable inclusion for Asmir Begovic as he makes his first return to the Britannia since leaving Stoke in the summer, continuing between the sticks due to the absence of Courtois and despite the presence of Amelia on the bench. In all, there are three changes from Mourinho to the team that was beaten by West Ham at the weekend, although the only one of those to come in defence sees Baba Rahman replace Azpilicueta at left-back.
That means that Kurt Zouma continues as makeshift right-back in Ivanovic's absence, with Cahill, who took his goal well at the weekend, and John Terry partnering up again at the heart of the defence. There is no Nemanja Matic to help protect them in defensive midfield tonight following his red card against the Hammers, so John Obi Mikel returns to the side to play next to Ramires in that role.
There is also a spot for Oscar in the team as Cesc Fabregas is left out altogether following some patchy form all season. The Spaniard was perhaps a little unfortunate to see a goal chalked off at the weekend following a dubious offside flag, but he was also guilty of contributing to the disciplinary problems that the Blues encountered during that match. Willian and Hazard, the latter of whom has been linked with a move away from the club over the past week or so, join Oscar in that trio behind the striker.
is deemed fit enough for the bench despite having struggled with injury of late, but Mourinho has again opted for Diego Costa to lead the line tonight. That was widely expected given the importance of the match for Chelsea, and Mourinho's decision to name almost a full-strength side is a good sign of how seriously he is taking the game. The bench is not exactly awash with experienced players in terms of this competition and playing for Chelsea, however.
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It may be a strong side named by Mourinho, but Stoke will go into this match believing that they have a very good chance of progressing into the quarter-finals. It is about as good a time to play Chelsea as any point over the past decade or so right now, and Stoke themselves have been moving in the right direction over the last few weeks. They were expected to push for a top-half finish, perhaps even European football, this season and they have shown signs of reaching that sort of potential after a slow start.
Having said that, the momentum they had started to build with a run of four straight wins came grinding to a halt at the weekend courtesy of a somewhat surprising defeat to Watford. The Hornets went into that match as the league's lowest scorers, but Stoke gave them every opportunity to improve that record with an error-strewn performance. It must have been one of the worst displays in the 100 games that Hughes has been manager of the club, and the man himself described his side as "unrecognisable".
Stoke simply gave the ball away far too often in that match, and they were eventually punished for those mistakes by Troy Deeney and Almen Abdi. The second goal in particular was disappointing from a Stoke perspective as not only did they carelessly gift possession to Watford inside their own half, they were also slow to react to the danger as Abdi drilled his effort home. The original error from Wilson was really poor, but then Wollscheid should have come across to meet Abdi a lot quicker than he managed.
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That result and performance has been something of an anomaly in recent weeks, though. As mentioned, they had won four in a row going into that game, and that included three clean sheets having failed to win any of their first seven matches in all competitions, excluding penalty shootouts. Their defence has been the strongest part of the team so far, with only one side in the bottom half of the Premier League having conceded fewer, but it is up front where the main problems have come. Only West Brom and Watford have found the back of the net fewer times than the Potters.
Surprisingly, their form at the Britannia has also been an issue. For quite some time now it has been deemed a tough place to go, while on the road Stoke have struggled to live up to those performance levels. So far this season, though, the roles have been reversed. Stoke have won their last three away games in all competitions yet have won just one of their five home matches so far this season, and that came with a late victory over newly-promoted Bournemouth. With back-to-back home games against Chelsea in league and cup, followed by games against Manchester City, away specialists Crystal Palace and Manchester United next up, that is a record that needs to improve.
They haven't been entirely convincing so far in this competition either. They needed penalties to get past Luton Town in the second round, conceding a equaliser in stoppage time of normal time to eventually force the shootout following a 1-1 draw. They were drawn away again in the third round against Championship side Fulham, when Peter Crouch's first-half goal proved to be the difference in a 1-0 victory.
They have a respectable record in this competition over the last few years, reaching the fourth round in seven of the last eight years, but they have only progressed through to the quarter-finals twice in that time. They were beaten 3-2 by Southampton here at the same stage last term, and haven't beaten a fellow Premier League team at home in this competition since September 2010. They have lost their last three against top-flight opposition and four of their last six home League Cup ties.
As mentioned, though, they are coming up against a Chelsea side who have not been in the predicament they currently find themselves in many times before. Mourinho himself is in uncharted territory following years of success in the game. This is undoubtedly the trickiest time of his managerial career so far, with the recent run of results being significantly worse than when he was first given the boot by Chelsea in 2007.
His past success has surely bought him more time than he might have otherwise enjoyed, not to mention the fact that it would prove to be very expensive for Chelsea if they were to part company with him, but you'd have to suspect that Abramovich is nearing the limit of his patience. There have been strong rumours that a defeat to Liverpool in Saturday's early kickoff could result in Mourinho leaving Chelsea, and those would only intensify if they don't come away with a win tonight.
It is fair to say that Mourinho, and many of the Chelsea team, have not helped themselves with some of their behaviour over the course of this troublesome patch. There seems to be a real feeling of a conspiracy against the club, and that was no doubt increased by events on Saturday as the Blues saw a goal controversially disallowed and three men sent off, including Mourinho himself and his assistant. Quite simply, Chelsea seemed to implode at Upton Park and Mourinho's no-show at the post-match press conference is likely to earn him yet another fine, warning and perhaps ban from the FA.
The antics of Chelsea, who picked up seven yellow cards in addition to the red for Matic, almost overshadowed the result itself as West Ham added the Premier League champions to the scalps that they have already collected this season. In fairness to Chelsea, they did fairly well to come from 1-0 down despite the numerical disadvantage for the majority of the game, but Andy Carroll's late header consigned them to a fifth league defeat from 10 league games - already two more than they suffered in the whole of last season.
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They now find themselves down in 15th place with just 11 points from 10 games - their worst start to the Premier League season ever. They are 11 points off top spot already, and are perhaps a little lucky that it isn't even worse for them. What may be worrying Mourinho and Chelsea most, however, is that they are also nine points off the top four and would have to average 2.17 points per game from now on to reach the average of 71.8 points that it has taken to get a place in the top four over the past five seasons.
Defensively, things have been pretty shocking for Chelsea so far. Only Norwich, Bournemouth and Newcastle have conceded more than the champions, which is the main reason behind having won just five of their 15 matches in all competitions so far this term, losing seven. Away from home they have won just twice this season including none of their last four, with one of those victories coming against League One side Walsall in the last round of this competition.
They are, however, the current holders of the League Cup and they have an impressive record in this competition over recent years. They have reached at least the quarter-finals in each of the last four seasons and have not lost an away League Cup game inside 90 minutes for more than a decade. At this particular stage of the competition, they are unbeaten away from home since 1976 - a 10-game streak that includes nine victories and a draw.
PREDICTION: Can they keep that record going tonight, though? It is a tough one to call, with Stoke's home record leaving a lot to be desired and Chelsea's away form being poor as well. The visitors just don't seem to be able to buy a win at the moment, though, and Stoke will be demanded a response to such a tepid display last time out. It really could go either way, but I'm going to back Stoke to make it through, even if they may need extra time or penalties.
Stoke actually have an incredible record against Chelsea in this competition, having won every previous League Cup meeting between the two sides. They have won four from four, which includes success in the 1972 final - the Potters' only previous triumph in the League Cup. They did finish as runners-up in 1963-64, but when it comes to League Cup pedigree, Chelsea are streets ahead of their opponents tonight.
Mourinho himself has won this competition three times in the past and tends to take it perhaps more seriously than many of his counterparts at other top clubs. The made it through to this round courtesy of a comfortable 4-1 triumph at Walsall in the third round, and the team chosen by the under pressure Portuguese boss proves that he is eager to continue his side's involvement in this competition despite plenty of other distractions for his team.
Chelsea won both meetings between these two sides last season, with the most recent of those coming in April when Eden Hazard
and Loic Remy were on the scoresheet in a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge, a match was particularly memorable for Charlie Adam's goal from inside his own half for Stoke. The last meeting here at the Britannia came just before Christmas last year, when John Terry and Cesc Fabregas netted in a 2-0 victory.
We're just minutes away from kickoff now for what is a big night for both teams, but especially Chelsea. Could, with defeat tonight, we be seeing Mourinho in charge of Chelsea for the final time?
KICKOFF: Here we go then! Stoke get us underway at the Britannia as they look to pile more misery on Mourinho and Chelsea.
Confident start from Chelsea, who have stroked the ball around nicely in the opening few minutes. Costa has the first shot of the night, but his effort deflects off Shawcross on the way behind for a corner.
CHANCE! Big save from Butland early on here as Hazard spins away from his man nicely before playing it out to Willian on the right. The Brazilian drills a low cross in towards the front post that Costa turns goalwards, but Butland is there to make the stop.
All of the early pressure is being applied by Chelsea at the moment, with Hazard in particular looking in ominous form. All of the shooting chances so far have fallen to Costa, but a number of Chelsea players are playing with the sort of confidence that belies their form going into this game.
Stoke make their first foray forward as a cross arrives from the left towards Diouf, who is beaten in the air by Baba. The ball comes out as far as Bardsley, whose speculative effort from distance is never troubling Begovic.
A little better from Stoke in the last couple of minutes as they begin to put Chelsea under a bit more pressure when the visitors have the ball, while also keeping possession better themselves.
OFF THE LINE! I'm not quite sure how this one has stayed, but nothing seems to be going for Chelsea right now! Costa is released down the left and reaches the byline before pulling the ball back into the middle. Wollscheid turns it towards his own net, but it is blocked on the line by a mixture of a Stoke defender and the heel of Hazard.
Stoke have a chance to threaten via the aerial route through a free kick, but there is not much of an angle for Adam to work with. He looks for Shawcross coming in at the back post, but puts too much on it as it goes behind for a goal kick.
Willian skips away from one challenge before being felled by a hefty tackle from Shawcross, who is lucky not to be booked. The free kick comes to nothing, but Willian is not moving freely at all right now. One to keep an eye on for Mourinho.
Adam scored a screamer from his own half the last time these two teams met and he goes for another spectacular effort again here, albeit from much closer in. He lets fly from 30 yards and gets plenty behind his effort, so much so that it knocks Cahill to the floor when he blocks it.
YELLOW CARD! Stoke have put in one or two strong challenges already tonight, and Bardsley becomes the first man in the book for the latest of those.
SAVE! Butland is called into action again here to keep Chelsea at bay. It is a nice move from the visitors as they advance into the box, before Costa cuts the ball back to Oscar on the edge. He looks to curl it into the top corner, but Butland makes a fine reaction save to tip it over.
Another heavy challenge arrives from a Stoke player, this time Diouf leaving Zouma in a heap on the floor. The Chelsea man landed heavily as well, which may have done the bulk of the damage as Diouf actually got the ball in the tackle, although he did appear to follow through a bit as well.
The resulting corner comes to nothing, but Oscar collects the second ball, moves down the left and cuts inside before curling an effort a few yards wide of the far post.
We're midway through the first half now and Chelsea have certainly looked most like scoring in this match so far. Butland has been forced into two good saves while the visitors have had one cleared off the line too. At the other end, meanwhile, Begovic has barely had a touch.
Speaking of Butland, he is called into action again as he gets a hand to a cross, clawing the ball to safety with Costa lurking dangerously looking to nod it home.
CLOSE! Stoke almost take the lead in spectacular fashion as Arnautovic manages to dig a cross out for Muniesa, who has made his way into the area. The full-back then pulls of a fine bicycle kick that loops over a stranded Begovic and lands on the roof of the net.
There is a bit of concern over Diego Costa right now. He has just been off to receive treatment for what looked like a rib injury following a collision with a Stoke defender. He looks like he should be fine to continue, but it is another one for Mourinho to keep tabs on.
CHANCE! Oh my word, how are Chelsea not ahead here?! It is Hazard who starts the move, looking back to his best with a mazy run that takes him past four players before poking the ball through to Baba. The left-back in turn plays it through to a surging Ramires, who beats Butland but then can't squeeze the ball into the empty net from a tight angle. He was a little off balance and running at full tilt, but that still has to go down as a sitter for the Brazilian.
In the wake of that dazzling run from Hazard, he is the latest to receive treatment having been blocked off late by Shawcross after releasing the ball. There are a number of walking wounded for the visitors right now, with Stoke dishing out some very physical treatment so far.
CHELSEA SUB: Indeed, they are forced into an early change here as Costa is unable to carry on. He goes down off the ball and is helped off to be replaced by Loic Remy, himself only just back from injury.
Arnautovic tries to take two blue shirts on deep inside his own half but his pocket is picked by Ramires. The Brazilian can't take advantage, however, with his attempted through-ball only running to the keeper.
YELLOW CARD! Baba Rahman becomes the first Chelsea name in the book this evening for a foul right on the byline having lost possession trying to prevent a corner.
SAVE! Adam looks to blast the free kick in towards the near post, despite the angle being almost an impossible one for the midfielder. Even so, Begovic needs to get down and get something on the shot to keep it out.
SAVE! Hazard does look in the mood tonight, more so than at any other point this season. He works a yard before firing a powerful effort towards the near post from a difficult angle, but Butland is there once again to turn it behind for a corner.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Chelsea do finally have the ball in the back of the net, but for the second time in four days it is chalked off due to the linesman's flag. This time there is no doubt about this being the correct decision, though, as Terry was in an offside position when flicking in Willian's low cross. That was an accomplished finish by the captain though!
Stoke still haven't really got going in an attacking sense, with that Muniesa bicycle kick the only time they have really threatened Begovic's goal. Still, they are holding out at the other end of the field far and will now be eager to make it into half time still level.
It is Chelsea putting the pressure on at the end of this half, but a couple of crosses into the box in quick succession come to nothing for Jose Mourinho's side.
There will be two minutes of added time at the end of this first half.
CHANCE! Huge chance for Stoke right at the end of the half. Arnautovic, Adam and Diouf are all involved, with the latter sliding a pass in to Walters inside the box. He collects it with his back to goal before hitting a shot on the turn from close range, but Begovic is there to smother it. By far Stoke's best moment of the match so far.
HALF TIME: Stoke City 0-0 Chelsea
A goalless first half comes to an end at the Britannia Stadium, but Chelsea will be feeling frustrated that they have been unable to find a breakthrough so far. They had the better chances in that first half, in addition to the bulk of the possession, but it remains all square, and Stoke could have even nicked the lead in the dying stages of that first half.
The closest we have come to a goal arrived after just 11 minutes when Wollscheid almost turned the ball into his own net, getting a touch to Costa's low cross inside his own six-yard box. Butland was well beaten, but the ball hit another Stoke man on the line after he had tracked the run of Hazard all the way back.
Costa had a number of ahcens of his own in that first half, being denied by Butland on a couple of occasions while also missing the target a few times. However, the Chelsea striker was unable to finish the half having been forced off through injury - one of a number of Chelsea players to require treatment in that opening 45 minutes. It has certainly been a physical encounter, with Stoke putting in some very strong challenges.
The simple truth is that Chelsea really should be winning, though. They were unfortunate with the effort that was cleared off the line, but Ramires had a golden opportunity to open the scoring shortly before the half-hour mark. Hazard and Baba Rahman combined to set up the Brazilian, who rounded Butland but couldn't squeeze the ball into an empty net from a tight angle. It wasn't the easiest open goal you will ever see, but he still should have scored.
Butland has been comfortably the busier of the two goalkeepers so far, also making saves to deny Oscar and Hazard during a good first-half display. Begovic was left stranded by a fine bicycle kick that looped onto the roof of the net from Marc Muniesa, but the first time the Chelsea keeper was really called into action against his former club arrived right at the end of the half when he smothered Walters's shot on the turn from close range.
Neither manager will be contemplating major changes for the second half, with Stoke looking more comfortable at the back since Costa's departure and Chelsea's only major scare coming right at the end of the half. The hosts will want more going forward and perhaps to protect Butland a little better, while Mourinho will be keen to see his side show more of a cutting edge in the final third. They have created the chances for this one to be almost dead and buried already, yet Stoke are still very much in this one.
KICKOFF: Chelsea get us back underway for the second half with a place in the quarter-finals at stake over the coming 45 minutes.
STOKE SUB: The hosts make a change early in this second half as Muniesa is replaced by Marc Wilson.
GOAL! Stoke 1-0 Chelsea (Jonathan Walters)
It is Stoke who strike first this evening, and what a goal it is from Jonathan Walters
, who was denied right at the end of the first half. Whelan strides forwards from midfield before finding Walters, who is given far too much room by Cahill on the edge of the box. Even so, Walters still has plenty to do as he takes a touch before firing a brilliant effort in off the bar.
'Sacked in the morning' is the chant from the Stoke fans directed at Mourinho. They may be a few days short, but this is sure to crank up the pressure on Saturday's meeting with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, a game that was already being touted as do-or-die for Mourinho even before tonight.
A chance for Chelsea to respond here as Shawcross goes lunging on right on the edge of his own box, bringing Remy to the ground. What can they do from this free kick?
SHOT! Willian has been deadly from free kicks so far this season, but he fails to test Butland here as his powerful effort goes a few yards over the crossbar.
Chelsea have quickly reassumed control of possession since going behind, but their heads do seem to drop when they go behind, it must be said. They wouldn't have experienced that many times last season and suddenly they are playing at a much slower tempo, with Hazard in particular looking much less threatening already.
Good defending from Wilson as he reacts quickly to Remy beating the offside trap, coming across and winning the ball off the striker before also saving the corner.
CLOSE! Walters very nearly doubles his personal tally and Stoke's lead, beating Zouma for strength before taking the ball down nicely and driving at goal. He cuts inside before unleashing another powerful effort, but this time the ball flies over the crossbar.
Vital challenge by Shawcross to deny Remy a great chance. The striker had timed his run well to latch on to a through-ball, but Shawcross got a toe in just before Remy would have been clean through.
Willian is the latest player to be left in a heap by a heavy Stoke challenge, this time from Adam. There is no punishment from referee Kevin Friend, however, who simply awards a throw-in.
SAVE! Willian is back on and moving freely after brief treatment, picking up the ball from Remy around 25 yards from goal before dipping inside and letting fly from outside the box. His shot lacks power, however, and Butland is able to make a relatively straightforward save down low to his right.
CHELSEA SUB: Mourinho makes his second change of the evening, and it is an attacking one from the visitors as Baba Rahman is replaced by Kenedy.
That switch has seen Ramires drop back into left-back, which means that both of Chelsea's full-backs are rather makeshift ones. Interesting switch from Mourinho.
OFF THE POST! Chelsea come close to levelling things up as a quick free kick is played to Zouma, who works a yard before drilling a powerful effort towards the near post. The angle was always against the defender, however, and his effort smashes against the outside of the post.
SAVE! Chelsea come forward with numbers, but a poor pass forward slows the break down. Eventually Kenedy picks up possession and fires a low effort towards goal, but once again it is fairly simple for Butland.
STOKE SUB: Not a bad man to be able to bring on for Stoke as Xherdan Shaqiri replaces Afellay for the final 15 minutes.
Time is really running out for Chelsea in this match, and it could be running out for Mourinho at the club too. Is that a wave goodbye, Jose?
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CHELSEA SUB: A third and final change for Chelsea as Ramires is replaced by Bertrand Traore.
YELLOW CARD! Welcome to the match, Traore. Wilson comes flying through the new man with a reckless challenge from behind that is rightly punished with a yellow card by Kevin Friend.
CHANCE! Stoke could put the game to bed here as Arnautovic, Walters and Adam work the ball out from defence really well to launch a counter. Walters is released down the left flank before cutting inside, turning down the chance to find Shaqiri and curling one high and wide of the far post.
Just over five minutes remain for Chelsea to save themselves falling to an eighth defeat from 16 matches this season but, in truth, they haven't threatened anywhere near as much in this second half as they did in the first.
Stoke do deserve credit for the way they have played tonight. They haven't been at their very best but they have been solid and certainly better than they were at the weekend. The match has been there for Chelsea to win with those chances they created in the first half, though.
As expected, all of the late pressure is being applied by Chelsea in these closing stages now. Stoke have defended their penalty area really well since half time, though, with Butland enjoying much better protection than in the first half.
CLOSE! Oh my word, Chelsea are very close to grabbing a special equaliser right at the death. Traore is the man to let fly from range and his effort looks destined for the top corner, only to fly narrowly over the crossbar. That was not far away at all.
STOKE SUB: Stoke make their final change of the night in an effort to wind the clock down a little more, with Peter Odemwingie coming on for the goalscorer Walters.
There will be four minutes of added time at the end of this match.
GOAL! Stoke 1-1 Chelsea (Loic Remy)
Chelsea have the equaliser in the first minute of added time to surely force extra time! Stoke have dealt so well with set pieces so far tonight, but this time Zouma wins the first ball and flicks it on to an unmarked Remy at the far post. He controls it before lashing his finish into the roof of the net from close range.
RED CARD! Phil Bardsley (Stoke)
Oh it is all going wrong for Stoke in stoppage time! They are reduced to 10 men as Bardsley dives in on Kenedy, bringing the winger down from behind. Kevin Friend produces a second yellow card, and Stoke can't have any complaints.
Huge save from Butland to deny Willian a glorious chance right at the death, although it wouldn't have counted anyway as the linesman's flag was correctly raised.
END OF 90 MINUTES: Stoke City 1-1 Chelsea
Well, that goes to show just how quickly a game can change. Stoke had one foot in the quarter-finals as the board went up for stoppage time, but Chelsea forced extra time with Remy's late equaliser and the visitors have to be made favourites now after the hosts were reduced to 10 men. Bardsley was the man sent off for a second bookable offence following a foul on Kenedy that leaves Stoke with a man disadvantage for the coming 30 minutes.
Chelsea didn't offer too much throughout that second half, but they deserved to at least reach extra time here and they began to show the sort of desire and urgency that has been lacking at times this season once they had levelled things up. All of the momentum is with the visitors now.
KICKOFF: Chelsea get us back underway for the first period of extra time.
CHANCE! Much more like it from Hazard, who injects a bit of pace into a patient attack with a one-two with Kenedy. Hazard collects the return ball inside the area before cutting inside and curling one just wide when he probably should have done better.
CHANCE! It is all Chelsea in the opening stages of extra time here. This time it is Traore who comes close, attacking a cross from the left wing well only to plant his header a yard or two wide.
CLOSE! Out of nothing Stoke come close to getting the crucial third goal of the game. One long ball forward finds him up against an isolated Zouma, and he cuts inside the Chelsea defender before bending one inches past the post.
Stoke do look deflated after all that late drama in normal time, but that Arnautovic effort should act as a warning shot to Chelsea - the hosts still have players capable of hurting the Blues despite being down to 10.
SAVE! None are quite as dangerous as an in-form Hazard, though, and the Belgian is starting to feel this one. He works a yard to shoot before drilling a strike towards goal that Butland has to awkwardly shovel away.
Traore has had a few efforts since coming on, but he won't want to see this one again as he blazes a long-range strike well over the crossbar.
Again Traore is involved here as he collects a fine drilled pass unmarked at the back post. His first touch is good but the angle is very tight, and his attempted cross is deflected into the side-netting.
Great work rate from these Stoke players as three of them chase a rather nothing ball into the corner from Adam, forcing Zouma to put it out for a throw-in.
Good defending from Diouf, who is acting as the makeshift right-back since Bardsley's dismissal. He tracks Kenedy's run all the way before using his strength to see the ball out of play.
Brilliant from Arnautovic, who still somehow has the energy to embark on a surging run forward from midfield. He beats a number of blue shirts on his way up the middle, but his final touch is just a fraction heavy and Begovic comes out to thwart the chance.
It is end-to-end stuff in extra time with shots galore from Chelsea. Oscar is the latest to go for goal, but his effort is never troubling Butland.
HALF TIME IN EXTRA TIME: Stoke City 1-1 Chelsea
Stoke safely traverse the opening period of extra time here, then, and they have continued to carry a threat of sorts on the break too, with Arnautovic in particular looking dangerous. It was Chelsea who looked most like scoring, however, and the 10 men of Stoke will be happy to reach a penalty shootout at this stage of the match.
KICKOFF: The hosts get us back underway for the second half of extra time at the Britannia Stadium.
Arnautovic has been such a willing runner in extra time so far. He sometimes has a tag of something of a luxury player, and his work rate has been called into question on occasion in the past, but he is working his socks off for the team this evening.
CLOSE! Half the ground think that Chelsea have taken the lead as Willian skips to his right before letting fly from outside the box. His shot does look like it has gone in as it ripples the side-netting, but it soon becomes evident that it was yet another near miss for the visitors.
CHANCE! Anywhere will do for Stoke right now as the pressure continues to grow on their defence. It is wave after wave of blue shirts coming forward right now, and they very nearly break through as Stoke's fatigue begins to show. Traore picks the ball up on the right side of the area, but his low effort is saved by the foot of Butland.
Traore tries to break down that side of the area once again, but this time Wilson pulls off a brilliant sliding challenge to poke the ball behind for a corner. Fine last-ditch defending from the Stoke man.
The blue shirts are queuing up to shoot now and Hazard is the latest to go for goal, but he can't get the ball out of his feet enough to get a good shot away, instead putting his effort high and wide.
Still Stoke hang on, and all of their players deserve huge credit for what has been a gutsy performance tonight. They are just four minutes short of the lottery of a penalty shootout, but that will feel like an awfully long four minutes for the home defence.
SAVE! Oh my word, Chelsea almost get a late winner right at the death in very fortuitous circumstances. A long diagonal ball forward is missed by Shaqiri, with the ball deflecting off the shin of Kenedy, who doesn't know much about it. Even so, it is sneaking in until Butland makes a brilliant save to tip it wide. The Stoke keeper has been brilliant tonight.
Diouf is down on his knees as this gruelling night continues to take it out of Stoke. They are so very nearly there into the shootout, though, with one minute of stoppage time being added.
Traore has one last effort from range, but his powerful strike flies a couple of yards over the top.
END OF EXTRA TIME: Stoke 1-1 Chelsea
Stoke make it to the shootout, then, as Chelsea are unable to find a way through. The hosts are almost out of it, though, so it will be interesting to see who steps forward against their former keeper Begovic, who must have inside knowledge on many of these players. Butland has been in brilliant form tonight, though, so don't count Stoke out just yet!
Stoke 1-0 Chelsea (Charlie Adam) Charlie Adam is first up for the hosts in the shootout, and he sends it right into the bottom corner.
Stoke 1-1 Chelsea (Willian) Willian approaches the spot to a hostile reception, but makes no mistake by sending Butland the wrong way.
Stoke 2-1 Chelsea (Peter Odemwingie) Odemwingie makes it two from two for Stoke, beating the outstretched hand of Begovic.
Stoke 2-2 Chelsea (Oscar) Oscar stutters in the run-up before coolly sending Butland the wrong way. Nerves of steel from the Brazilian.
Stoke 3-2 Chelsea (Xherdan Shaqiri) Up steps Stoke's record signing Shaqiri, who blasts it beyond Begovic.
Stoke 3-3 Chelsea (Loic Remy) Brilliant penalty from Remy to keep things perfect in the shootout as he places his spot kick right into the top corner.
Stoke 4-3 Chelsea (Marc Wilson) Wilson is the unlikely candidate to step up next, but he sends Begovic the wrong way to put Stoke back in front.
Stoke 4-4 Chelsea (Kurt Zouma) Zouma, on his 21st birthday, blasts it down the middle to take us to 4-4 and effectively into sudden death.
Stoke 5-4 Chelsea (Marko Arnautovic) Another successful spot kick as Arnautovic plants his effort right into the corner. Over to Hazard...
Stoke 5-4 Chelsea (Eden Hazard misses!)
STOKE ARE THROUGH TO THE LEAGUE CUP QUARTER-FINALS!
Incredible scenes at the Britannia Stadium as Hazard, of all people, becomes the first player to miss from the spot. In fairness, saying Hazard missed may be doing Butland a disservice as it is a fabulous save from the Stoke keeper, not for the first time this evening. He gets a hand to Hazard's powerful spot kick to turn it over the top and send the home fans wild! Stoke are into the last eight, while Chelsea's miserable season just gets worse and worse.
Well, what an entertaining match that was. Stoke took the lead through a stunning strike from Jonathan Walters early in the second half, but Chelsea appeared to have the advantage when they levelled things up in the first minute of stoppage time before Phil Bardsley was sent off moments later. Stoke held on through the extra 30 minutes, however, and emerged victorious courtesy of a perfect performance in the penalty shootout.
That is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole on an eventful night at the Britannia Stadium as Stoke beat Chelsea on penalties to knock the holders out of the League Cup in the fourth round. Be sure to stick around for our match report and reaction from both camps, while we have plenty more live League Cup action on offer for you tomorrow night. From me, though, it is goodbye for now!