Apr 5, 2014 at 5.30pm UK at ​Stamford Bridge
StokeStoke City
Salah (32'), Lampard (61'), Willian (72')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Chelsea vs. Stoke City

Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge as the Blues look to bounce back from two defeats in the space of a week.

Chelsea host Stoke City this Saturday evening on the back of consecutive defeats which have badly damaged their chances of picking up a trophy this season.

The Blues suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace last weekend to lose ground to Manchester City and table-topping Liverpool in the title race.

On Wednesday, they were outgunned by Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie and must now overturn a two-goal deficit to keep their European dreams alive.

In contrast, things have been going very well for Stoke of late, with Mark Hughes guiding his side to the safe ground of the top half of the table with a run of four wins in their last five games.

The Welshman will hope to continue this form at one of his former clubs on Saturday, but will be well aware that Chelsea have never lost a top-flight match at Stamford Bridge under Jose Mourinho's management.

'The Special One' will know, though, that his side cannot afford another slip up if they are to rival the clubs from the North-West for major domestic honours in his first season back in England.

Reports this week have claimed that Mourinho is planning an overhaul of his strike force in the summer, but with number one target Diego Costa contracted to Atletico Madrid for now, Samuel Eto'o will likely be tasked with leading the line against the Potters.

The 33-year-old missed the defeat in France, where Mourinho opted to go without a recognised striker, with a hamstring injury, but is expected to be fit and preferred to Fernando Torres in London.

Nemanja Matic is ineligible for continental competition, but will return to anchor the midfield and could be partnered by Frank Lampard, with Ramires finishing his three-match suspension. Ashley Cole and Marco van Ginkel are the other senior men missing for the Blues.

With former Chelsea defender Robert Huth unlikely to feature again this season, Hughes could stick with the same back line that kept out Hull City, with Erik Pieters having recovered fully from a knock.

He could make changes in midfield, though, with the more defensive-minded Wilson Palacios perhaps better suited to a trip to Stamford Bridge than playmaker Stephen Ireland.

Jonathan Walters is back from his three-match ban, but may have to be content with a place among the substitutes, considering the roles played by Marko Arnautovic and Peter Odemwingie in Stoke's recent form.

Chelsea can, at least temporarily, climb back to the top of the table with a win.

Recent form

Chelsea: LLWWLW


Possible starting lineups

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Matic, Lampard; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Eto'o

Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Palacois, Whelan, N'Zonzi; Arnautovic, Odemwingie, Crouch

Sports Mole says: 1-0

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Manchester City during their Premier League match on February 3, 2014
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