Chelsea will be looking to win their fourth Premier League match in-a-row at the Britannia Stadium against Stoke City on Saturday as they look to put some pressure on league leaders Arsenal, who host Everton on Sunday.
During today’s press conference Jose Mourinho revealed that David Luiz has not yet recovered from his knee injury and is unavailable. His Brazil team-mate Oscar is better after his ankle knock but Mourinho was uncertain if the midfielder would feature.
There is some good news on the injury front as Samuel Eto’o is back after missing the last two games because of a groin injury sustained during the 1-0 loss against FC Basel in the Champions League.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes has no reported any fresh injury news as far as his squad is concerned but former Chelsea defender Robert Huth is still recovering from surgery and may not be back in action for a few weeks yet.
The XI I would pick to face Stoke:
B. Ivanovic – G. Cahill – J. Terry (c) – A. Cole
Ramires – J. Mikel
A. Schurrle – J. Mata – E. Hazard
Seeing as David Luiz is injured the only likely rotation in defence would be to restore Ashley Cole at left-back and in place of either Branislav Ivanovic or Cesar Azpilicueta, but I’d like to see Mourinho will stick with a back four that has mostly been solid in recent weeks.
However, it was worrying to see how poorly the Blues defended set-pieces and I think this will be an area that Stoke will look to exploit. Although Frank Lampard played very well in the last couple of league matches John Obi Mikel represents a more solid option defensively as well as providing more height against Stoke’s players.
I have seen a bit of criticism of Willian for his performances but he always puts in a lot of running and did a lot of gritty jobs for the team at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday but saying this, it’s probably about time Andre Schurrle was afforded another opportunity in order to freshen things up and in the interest of fairness.
Demba Ba probably ought to have started the Sunderland game following his good performance against Southampton at Stamford Bridge but helped force the issue once again as a substitute. Probably a little early to throw Eto’o straight back in there and Ba has the momentum, so I’d put the Cameroon forward on the bench.