Chelsea v Stoke Sat 15:00
Presenting us with what will be Roberto Di Matteo’s first Premier League game at the helm of Chelsea, Stoke City will look to heap misery upon their English opponents when the two sides meet on Saturday as Bet365 make heavy odds on favourites to take all three points at Stamford Bridge.
The Italian boss got off to a good start in his new role during the week, seeing Chelsea through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup after beating Birmingham City 2-0 in their Fifth Round replay.
Speculation maintains that particular members of the Chelsea dressing room have a rocky relationship with their new manager after Andre Villas Boas was sacked earlier in the month following similar claims.
Captain John Terry recently admitted that him and teammates must also take some of the blame for the dismissal of Villas Boas and the former England leader will need to ensure that his squad paint a different picture under their new management.
The centre-back made his return to the Chelsea line-up against Birmingham earlier in the week following a short period out with a knee injury and despite the fact that he failed to come off the bench, Terry may make his return to play against Tony Pulis’ Stoke.
Di Matteo could also see two other considerable defensive reinforcements this weekend with both José Bosingwa and Ashley Cole in contention to make their comebacks after injuries.
Tony Pulis has no new injury concerns to worry about and is expected to hand Andy Wilkinson a late fitness test in the hopes that he can feature at Stamford Bridge.
Despite their disappointing loss to West Brom last week, Chelsea’s home form has been their saving grace if there was one this campaign and the Blues currently have the third best home attack in the English top flight, scoring an average of 2.31 goals per game this campaign.
Stoke are in a similar vein of form to Chelsea of late but even if John Terry were to return to action this weekend, David Luiz and Gary Cahill may not find it difficult to keep the likes of Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters out with Stoke carrying the second worst away attack in the Premier League.
The Potters have scored an average of just 0.69 goals per game when playing away from the Brittania Stadium this campaign and it will be interesting to see if which side will benefit from the fresh management shift to Roberto Di Matteo.
Rafa Benitez appears to be out of the picture after Chelsea fans voiced their opinions from the crowd at Birmingham midweek, while José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are still the talk of the terraces.
Of course, ultimately the decision lies with Roman Abramovich, and once again he will be hoping his wallet can do the talking as Blues fans look for Champions League qualification, and a fresh start for next season under a new regime.