CHE v STK- PREVIEW: Only one point separates Chelsea(3rd) and Manchester United(2nd) after game week 20. Chelsea are currently on 42 points, 7 less than their last year’s league-winning campaign. Antonio Conte’s ploy of strengthening Chelsea’s defence has worked well, but it’s the goal scorers that have let him down. Chelsea average only 1.7 goals per game this season and are 6th on the goal scoring tally. Alvaro Morata has only scored 3 in the last 9 games after a promising start.
Eden Hazard’s form is correlated to Chelsea’s. If he gets going, Chelsea are more often than not leading the league or battling for the top spot, to say the least. They are now 16 points behind league leaders Manchester City and unless City go into a self-destruction mode it’s hard for Chelsea to hope for a successful title defence.
Stoke City have a preposterous record in London. They haven’t won any of their last 16(Lost 10, Draw 6) games against London-based opponents. Against a comparatively sturdier unit, in Chelsea, that number is likely to go up by 1. Mark Hughes has major concerns with his side’s defensive staging and if they’ve got to push for a top-half finish, organized resistance would be demanded of them. Stoke are only 5 points away from the relegation zone.
Stoke City have conceded at least 2 goals in 11 premier league games and have conceded a total of 41. They’ve scored only 23.
A 7-2 loss to City and a 5-1 defeat against the Spurs puts a lot of conjecture to the manager’s tactics. Can Stoke keep the likes of Morata and Hazard away?
Head-to-Head: Premier League- Played 19, Chelsea 14, Stoke City 2, Draw 3.
This season: Chelsea won 0-4. Courtesy an Alvaro Morata hat-trick.
FACTS: Chelsea haven’t lost their final Premier League game of a calendar year since 2011 (1-3 at home to Aston Villa).
The Blues have conceded just four goals in their last 11 Premier League games, keeping seven clean sheets on the way. Chelsea, City and United have 10 clean sheets so far this season.
20 off 34 Chelsea’s league goals have been scored by Spanish players(Morata-10, Marcos Alonso-5, Pedro-3, Azpilicueta-1).
Eden Hazard(Chelsea): Hazard was voted the 19th best player in the world this year, but the Belgian hasn’t hit the level he’s expected to operate at. He’s been involved in only 9 goals this season compared to his 25(16 goals, 9 assists) last year. Hazard is arguably the best player in the league and Chelsea will be craving for him to strike a purple patch for the rest of the season. Hazard hasn’t featured on the scoresheet frequently through the first half and these might be alarming signs for the opponents. At the bridge, he’ll fancy his chances and will be Chelsea’s, key man.
Minutes played: 1110, Big chances created: 4, Shots on target: 21
Xherdan Shaqiri(Stoke City): Shaqiri has been involved in 9 goals this season(scored 4, made 5), but the Swiss international’s mercurial form has resulted in his team’s mediocre numbers. Shaqiri is swift, quick and has a piledriver of a left foot. His partnership with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will be crucial if the Potters are willing to draw any point(s) from this fixture.
Minutes played: 1558, Goals: 4, Assists: 5, Big chances created: 9.
FAVOURITES: Stoke City have only won one away game while Chelsea have won 7 out of the 10 games played at Stamford Bridge. The Premier League is reputed to be volatile but between Chelsea and Stoke City, the blues are the stronger unit and are likely to win 3 points.
Expected XI- CHE v STK:
(Chelsea): Thibaut Courtois(gk), Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, N’golo Kante, Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater, Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata.
(Stoke City): Jack Butland(gk), Erik Pieters, Kevin Wimmer, Geoff Cameron, Thomas Edwards, Joe Allen, Darren Fletcher, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Xherdan Shaqiri, Mame Biram Diouf, Peter Crouch.
Dream11 for CHE v STK:
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