THE POTTERS will be looking to exploit any tiredness in Chelsea’s squad after their midweek Champions League draw against Juventus, although City’s record at Stamford Bridge suggests this fixture will be as tough as any this season.
They haven’t won there since 1975 in the league, although they ran them close last year when a Didier Drogba goal edged out Tony Pulis’ men after Ricardo Fuller had been sent off.
Chelsea threw away a 2-0 goal lead on Wednesday night against the Italian champions, but have made an excellent start in the league and are the early pacesetters having won three and drawn one of their four matches so far.
All of City’s Premier League games have so far ended all square, and there were plenty of positives to take from last Saturday’s 1-1 draw against champions Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium – a result they wouldn’t mind repeating in this weekend’s clash.
Full name: Chelsea Football Club
Stadium: Stamford Bridge
Owner: Roman Abramovich
Chairman: Bruce Buck
Manager: Roberto di Matteo
2011/12: Premier League (6th), UEFA Champions League (winners), FA Cup (winners), League Cup (Fifth Round)
Record league victory: 8-0 v Wigan Athletic, Premier League, 09/05/2010,
Record league defeat: 1-8 v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Division One, 26/09/1953
Record transfer fee paid: £50m to Liverpool for Fernando Torres, 31/01/2011
Record transfer fee received: £24m from Real Madrid for Arjen Robben, 22/08/2007
ROBERTO DI MATTEO
CHELSEA OWNER Roman Abramovich had no other option than to offer Roberto Di Matteo a two-year contract as permanent manager this summer . . . after the Italian turned their season around in spectacular fashion last year.
Following André Villas-Boas’ short and unsuccessful tenure at the helm, the former MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion boss was appointed on an interim basis in March this year.
No-one could have predicted what followed as di Matteo led Chelsea to huge achievements on both domestic and European fronts by claiming the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League – the Blues’ first win in the latter.
The remarkable success cemented him firmly as a Chelsea legend after also making 119 appearances for the Club as a midfielder, finishing his career at Stamford Bridge in 2002.
The Swiss-born di Matteo started his playing career Schaffhausen, FC Zurich and Aarau before getting his break at Italian giants Lazio in 1993, with whom he played 87 times before being snapped up by then Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit in 1996.
As boss of MK Dons, he took them to a League One Play-Off Semi-Final before taking the reins at West Bromwich Albion in June 2009.
After being replaced by Roy Hodgson in February 2011, di Matteo proceeded to become assistant to Villas-Boas, and the rest, as they say, is history.
ANDY WILKINSON will miss out for the Potters as he begins his three-match ban for violent conduct after an off-the-ball incident with Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli in last week’s draw.
Tony Pulis is keeping his options open as to who will replace the 28-year-old, with Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shotton two of those in contention.
Midfielder Jamie Ness has had a full week’s training following his groin injury so could feature, while Maurice Edu could be in line for his debut after linking up with the squad this week following his international excursions with the United States.
For Chelsea, Juan Mata made a confident return from injury in the midweek clash against Juventus, although goal-scorer Oscar picked up an ankle knock while there are also concerns over Daniel Sturridge (hamstring).
THE WEEKEND'S ACTION
Swansea v Everton (12:45)
CHELSEA V STOKE
Southampton v Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion v Reading
West Ham United v Sunderland
Wigan Athletic v Fulham
Liverpool v Manchester United (Sunday, 13:30)
Newcastle United v Norwich City (Sunday, 15:00)
Manchester City v Arsenal (Sunday, 16:00)
Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers (Sunday, 16:00)
All games kick-off at 3pm unless otherwise stated
League: 22 Stoke City wins; 18 draws; 36 Chelsea wins
FA Cup: 1 Stoke City win; 0 draws; 3 Chelsea wins
League Cup: 4 Stoke City wins; 3 draws; 0 Chelsea wins
TOTAL: 27 Stoke City wins; 21 draws; 39 Chelsea wins
LAST FIVE ENCOUNTERS
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City (Premier League) – 10/03/2012
Stoke City 0-0 Chelsea (Premier League) – 14/08/2011
Stoke City 1-1 Chelsea (Premier League) – 02/04/2011
Chelsea 2-0 Stoke City (Premier League) – 28/08/2010
Chelsea 7-0 Stoke City (Premier League) – 25/04/2010
Chelsea 4/11, Stoke City 8/1, draw 15/4
Referee – Michael Oliver
NORTHUMBERLAND referee Michael Oliver will take charge of his fourth Premier League match of the campaign at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
He officiated at Old Trafford last Saturday for Manchester United’s 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic, while he was also in charge for Everton’s 3-1 triumph against Aston Villa on August 25th – a game in which he sent off Villans defender Ciaran Clark.
On the opening day of the season, he oversaw Fulham 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City at Craven Cottage.
His last Stoke City game was the 1-0 win over the Canaries at the Britannia Stadium in March, while the week before that he refereed Chelsea’s comfortable 3-0 victory against Bolton Wanderers.
In total last year, he dished out 94 yellow cards and 4 reds, including the dismissal of Gary Caldwell for Wigan Athletic in their 2-2 draw against the Potters on New Year’s Eve.