MARK HUGHES has challenged his players to etch their names into the history books tomorrow evening and become the first team to take all three points away from Stamford Bridge during the Jose Mourinho era.
Chelsea have yet to taste defeat on home turf in the top-flight under the stewardship of the charismatic Portuguese – a staggering run that stretches 76 matches during his two spells in charge.
The Blues have endured a disappointing seven days however, suffering a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace last weekend – a result that could have devastating consequences on their hunt for the league title – before succumbing to a 3-1 defeat against PSG in the last 16 of the Champions League.
“I think it’s fair to say that their form at the moment isn't where they would expect it to be,” the 50-year-old told stokecityfc.com in the build-up to the game.
“What you find with top clubs though is they bounce back very quickly, and when questions are asked, top players and top teams more often than not they tend to have the answers.
“We have to be mindful of a backlash, but we are in a good place at the moment, and if there is ever a good time to go to a place like Stamford Bridge then that is when you are in better form that Chelsea, which we possibly are at the moment.
“Confidence is always important at places like Chelsea, and we have to make sure we show that and show no apprehension, and then see where it takes us.
“We've had a decent month, and back-to-back wins is huge in the Premier League, because very quickly you can move up the league table.”
He added: “This weekend provides a massive challenge for us, but one that we are looking forward to. It is an incredible record that they have at Stamford Bridge but this is an opportunity for our lads to go down there and make a bit of history.”
The City boss says his side will have to be cautious when they take to the field against the Blues, but knows the importance of taking a number of risks if they are to reign supreme over the Blues and record a historic Premier League double.
"We have to expect them to have long periods with the ball by virtue of the quality they possess, so we are going have to be compact and organised, especially in the middle of the park.
"It;s difficult to gauge an idea of what eleven he will go with because of the options available to him, but that said, there are one or two lads out at the moment, who we may have expected to feature should they have been available.
"Whichever eleven he puts out though will be full of quality, so we are going have to be at our best to get something from the game.
"At some point we are going to have to take some risks and try to get the victory that we are looking for. It's not going to be easy but we are prepared to give it a real go."