The final match of FA Cup weekend comes at Stamford Bridge and involves two sides who have made the final over recent seasons. However, that doesn’t mean to say that an even tie is expected, with the bookies under the firm belief that Chelsea will progress to the latter stages.
It’s not often that a team sells a player for £37m and won’t even witness any disadvantages, but that’s exactly the case with Chelsea. The fact that the Blues no longer require the services of Juan Mata shows exactly how far they have come since Jose Mourinho’s return – and makes one question just how far they might go if they continue in their current vein. Over the last few weeks the Stamford Bridge outfit have looked unstoppable and approach this encounter on the back of six straight victories. With the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool being two of their victims, it’s clear to see that the Blues are in tip-top shape and probably won’t view the FA Cup as a distraction in the slightest. They might sit just two points behind leaders Arsenal, but Mourinho will be desperate to get his hands on any type of silverware in his second spell in charge and that should result in the Blues taking this clash completely seriously.
Chelsea weren’t the only side to change their manager during the summer and Stoke are also feeling the effects of appointing a new man. Unfortunately, it would be fair to say that Mark Hughes has struggled to carry on the success of his predecessor Tony Pulis and the Potters currently reside in 14th spot. Such a placing leaves them just four points above the drop zone and relegation must be a concern for the club’s fans. The omens certainly don’t look positive ahead of this FA Cup tie either, with Hughes’ side now on a run which has seen them win just one of their last seven in the league.
As for team news, Chelsea are expected to name Demba Ba as their lone striker as Fernando Torres still struggles with a knee problem. Elsewhere, Mohamed Salah still hasn’t completed his transfer from Basel meaning that he will have to wait a little longer for his Blues debut. Stoke may have received a boost between the sticks meanwhile, with Asmir Begovic recovering from a broken finger. John Guidetti could also return from the treatment table, but it’s not quite as positive for Andy Wilkinson and Robert Huth who are both still struggling.
In terms of a prediction, we don’t see any surprises in this game. Chelsea have been in fantastic form of late, while Stoke have really struggled. Bearing this in mind, we can only see the Blues progressing to the next round with our tip being a comfortable 2-0 win for Jose Mourinho’s side.