There is no doubt that all eyes will be on this fixture on Saturday, with Chelsea set to participate in their first Premier League game since Andre Villas-Boas’ sacking last week. However, as they have proved on more than one occasion, opponents Stoke are one of the most formidable sides in the Premier League and they certainly won’t roll over and allow Roberto Di Matteo to grab his first league victory as caretaker manager.
The news of Villas-Boas’ departure shocked the football world last week, with many surprised that the Blues acted so swiftly considering the fact that the end of the season is not too far away anyway. Still, former West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo is the man who has been handed the reins until the end of the campaign and his first game went very smoothly, with Chelsea brushing past Birmingham in an FA Cup tie to progress to the quarter-finals of the competition. However, there’s no doubt that major improvements are required in the league, with the Stamford Bridge outfit currently on a run which has seen them win just once in their last six. It was the club’s last game that proved a step too far for the Blues’ hierarchy though, with a 1-0 defeat to Bolton being the last straw for Andre Villas-Boas.
Stoke on the other hand appear to have little to play for, with the Potters currently sat in 9th position following an accumulation of thirty six points. Such a tally means that the club are ten away from the European qualification positions and with so little of the campaign remaining, it looks as though Tony Pulis will simply want to establish his side in the upper reaches of the division. Judging by current form, such an achievement seems very likely. The Britannia Stadium outfit have won their last two games, which means their form has completely turned around from a couple of weeks ago where they lost four top flight games on the spin.
Roberto Di Matteo has been handed some grand news for his first game in charge at Stamford Bridge, with influential duo Ashley Cole and John Terry back in contention following injury layoffs. Other than that the Blues have nothing to report, although Di Matteo may decide to make further changes following recent form. Stoke on the other hand have a couple of doubts, with Rory Delap and Andy Wilkinson both penned in for late fitness tests having picked up minor injuries in recent weeks.
As for a prediction, our tip is going to be a Chelsea victory. While Stoke have put together a couple of decent results over recent weeks, we think the turmoil at Stamford Bridge could inspire the home side to a narrow 2-1 victory.