Chelsea v Stoke

Juan Mata, Chelsea

Juan Mata, Chelsea

The return of the FA Cup sees Chelsea meet fellow Premier League side Stoke City in the fourth round at Stamford Bridge. This is the only all Premier League fixture in the round of 32.

Jose Mourinho celebrated his 100th Premier League win in charge of Chelsea on Sunday in style, as his swaggering side ruthlessly dispatched Manchester United 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho, who reached the milestone after just 142 games, became the fastest manager in Premier League history to reach a ton of wins and his Chelsea side is hitting peak form at just the right time. The Blues will now turn their attention to Sunday afternoon’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Stoke City. Chelsea have enjoyed a great amount of success in the FA Cup since the mid-’90s and Jose Mourinho holds the competition close to his heart.

Following Chelsea’s impressive victory over Manchester United, Jose Mourinho will be tempted to rotate his squad but the club’s love affair with the FA Cup in recent years ensures he won’t treat the competition as a distraction. It may well be a rare start for the out of favour Juan Mata, the Chelsea Player of the Year for the past two seasons has struggled to fit into Mourinho’s plans but is almost certain to start against Stoke with Oscar set to be rested. Mata has tasted success in the FA Cup before, and he understands the importance of the competition. He will likely be joined in the midfield attacking trio by Andre Schurrle and the in-form Willian.

Nemanja Matic will be raring to go and could make his full debut this weekend following his big money move from Benfica for a fee of £20.75m. Chelsea will be without Fernando Torres who is expected to be sidelined until the end of the month. Mourniho will call upon Samuel Eto’o who produced his best performance in a Blues shirt against the Red Devils scoring a superb hat-trick. Mark Schwarzer started the FA Cup third round win against Derby (2-0) and is likely to replace Petr Cech between the sticks.

Stoke v Chelsea

Stoke v Chelsea – Andre Schurrle

Stoke will be relieved to get away from Premier League action this weekend after their disappointing 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Stoke did everything they could to grab a point at the death, to the point of throwing Ryan Shawcross forward in hope that the defender would somehow knock one in. Stoke have now gone five league matches without tasting victory, and will now face an uphill battle against a Chelsea side who remain unbeaten at home.

The Potters beat Leicester 2-1 at home to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup. Stoke`s previous meeting with Chelsea in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge was in the Blues’ favour as the Potters lost 2-0 in the quarter-final fixture in 2010. Charlie Adam will be the man to watch as he certainly knows where the goal is and likes a tackle as well, so the Blues midfield will need to track his box-to-box capabilities. Peter Crouch, linked with a move to Palace, looks set to lead the line alongside new Manchester City loan star John Guidetti. Striker Kenwyne Jones will return to the squad after being disciplined by the club for refusing to play against Liverpool two weeks ago. Despite Stoke having conceded 15 goals in their last five Premier League outings, Hughes is not likely to make many alterations in defence as Robert Huth and Andy Wilkinson are still sidelined with knee and foot problems respectively.

Chelsea’s strength in depth means there is no chance of them starting with a weak line-up. Stoke are heavily reliant on their home form as they have the worst away record in the Premier League. There’s not much value in the Chelsea win at 3/10 so we recommend taking Chelsea on the handicap at 13/20.

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