FINAL SCORE: Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea
STOKE (Sporting Alert) — Chelsea will start as the favourites to win their English Premier League Monday night football game against Stoke City, but manager Jose Mourinho is expecting a tough trip to the Britannia Stadium.
The league leaders were joined at the top of the table standings by Manchester City on 39 points after the defending champions won their game on Saturday, but a victory on Monday will see them going three points clear in the race for the title.
Stoke City doesn’t have a good head-to-head record against Chelsea in their 12 Premier League meetings, but did beat Jose Mourinho’s side 3-2 in this fixture last season, despite Andre Schurrle netting a brace for the Blues.
Mark Hughes side has already picked up wins over Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal this season and battled hard in narrow defeats to the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, and Mourinho believes his team must be aware.
“They are a good and difficult side. They have that important base that Tony Pulis gave them: physicality, set-pieces, aggressive, direct,” Mourinho said.
“This was the base of their success since they came to the Premier League.
“In the last couple of years with Mark Hughes, without losing that identity, he has brought some of his own ideas, some players that can have more than that physicality.
“We have to go there and play our game but we know well their qualities as a team and their qualities individually and we have also to adapt to it.”
A 2-0 win for Stoke City would see Manchester City going top of the EPL standings heading into Christmas, which would be a remarkable boost for the champs, given their current injury problems.
In team news for Monday, Chelsea is expected to have forward Didier Drogba and defender Kurt Zouma available after they both recovered from respective knocks during last week’s League Cup win against Derby.
It is also highly likely that goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will return to the starting XI after missing the last two games with a muscular problem.
Forward Bojan Krkic is expected to be available for Stoke City after he suffered a hip injury at Crystal Palace last week.