Chelsea v Stoke Preview: Costa unlikely to start

Chelsea host Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening knowing victory will secure a nine-point lead at the top of the Premier Lea...

Chelsea host Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening knowing victory will secure a nine-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Current form suggests this could be a difficult one to call. The Blues were lucky to escape with three points against Hull a fortnight ago and have been unconvincing in their own backyard of late, drawing three of their last four matches.

With that said, although it could be a good time to visit the leaders, recent history indicates Stoke will need more than a hint of luck to collect three points in west London. The Potters last tasted victory away to Chelsea over two decades ago and have failed to score a single goal in their previous seven visits.

Jose Mourinho is in two minds whether to call upon Diego Costa to start the match, but one thing is for sure, he and his Blues will face an awkward outing against the West Midlands side.

Chelsea Form

(W) Hull City 2-3 Chelsea
(D) Chelsea 1-1 Southampton
(D) Chelsea 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain
(W) West Ham 0-1 Chelsea
(W) Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham

Stoke Form

(L) Stoke 1-2 Crystal Palace
(L) West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Stoke
(W) Stoke 2-0 Everton
(W) Stoke 1-0 Hull City
(W) Aston Villa 1-2 Stoke

Last Five Meetings

Stoke 0-2 Chelsea, League, December 2014
Chelsea 3-0 Stoke, League, April 2014
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke, FA Cup, January 2014
Stoke 3-2 Chelsea, League, December 2013
Stoke 0-4 Chelsea, League, January 2013

Chelsea Team News

Diego Costa is unlikely to start having aggravated a long-term hamstring injury against Hull prior to the international break.

Scans at Cobham on Wednesday show the striker is fit to face Stoke, but, having only trained with the first team twice this week, Mourinho is unsure whether he will play from the outset.

“He’s not injured but I don’t know if I start with him or not because, obviously, with muscular injuries, and after just two days with the group, I need to analyse the situation with him and make a decision,” the Chelsea boss said.
“We’ll see the next 24 hours. But selected [in the squad]? That’s for sure.”

Mourinho has also declared John Obi Mikel will not to return to the squad despite training with the first team this week. The midfielder is continuing his recovery after undergoing a knee operation in early March.

Stoke Team News

Mark Hughes is sweating over the fitness of fullback Marc Muniesa, who has missed the last five fixtures because of a hamstring problem.

Republic of Ireland international Jonathan Walters is expected to be available for the trip to Stamford Bridge despite picking up a knock to his calf in training during the week.

On-loan Chelsea winger Victor Moses has recovered from a groin injury, but the Nigerian will be ineligible to face his parent club.

Probable Lineups

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Remy

Stoke: Begovic, Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Wollscheid, Cameron, Walters, N’Zonzi, Whelan, Arnautovic, Crouch

Score Prediction

A repeat of the 7-0 mauling by Carlo Ancelotti’s title-winning side in April 2010 is a lot to ask, but this fixture could be an opportunity to kickstart a run that will see us finish the season with conviction.

The Chelsea players cannot allow the insurance of having a game in hand over Manchester City to diminish their hunger to win matches like these – that is the mindset Jose Mourinho must instil into his squad.

It is likely to be a dogfight against a physical Stoke side, but I see the Blues winning 3-1.

What are your score predictions?

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