Apr 5, 2014 at 5.30pm UK at ​Stamford Bridge
Chelsea
3-0
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

Stoke: WWWDWL

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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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City23202167175062
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd23155348163250
3Liverpool23138254282647
4Chelsea23145441162547
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs23135546212544
6Arsenal23116641301139
7Burnley239771920-134
8Leicester CityLeicester238783432231
9Everton2376102538-1327
10Watford2375113342-926
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham2367102941-1225
12Crystal Palace2367102133-1225
13Bournemouth2366112435-1124
14Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2366111939-2024
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2365122131-1023
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2358101729-1223
17Southampton2349102334-1121
18Stoke CityStoke2355132350-2720
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom23310101830-1219
20Swansea CitySwansea2345141435-2117
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