Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday January 16 2009
17th January 2009
Stoke will go into the difficult match at the Bridge with confidence high after a good goalless draw against Liverpool last week and buoyed by the signing of James Beattie at the start of the week.
Chelsea will be smarting after the 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United last weekend, but hopefully took that out in their 4-1 win over Southend in the midweek FA Cup replay.
The Blues' recent inability to cope with set-pieces will hopefully be tested to the extreme by the Potters and if Stoke are fortunate enough to get an early lead it should be an interesting game.
The Chelsea boss saw some of the pressure relieved with the cup win, but knows that he faces a different challenge this weekend. Scolari told the media this week: 'Stoke are more dangerous than all the teams in England and the world and they will be a good test for us.
'If you look at their statistics, they have scored 18 goals and 11 have been from corners, free-kicks or throw-ins.
'We have been thinking about our problems and we have some solutions.'
Joe Cole is out after limping off in the cup tie against Southend, but Scolari seems likely to bring back Drogba in attack.
Chelsea's back four look like they'll be key to the Blues' fortunes against the Potters and will now doubt be primed to try and cope with the Delap factor.
James Beattie will make his debut with Ricardo Fuller still suspended. Whether Tony Pulis will play him alongside Dave Kitson or Richard Cresswell remains to be seen but I'd prefer Kitson to be given the chance. Matthew Etherington will hope to continue his promising start last week. Mamady Sidibe is still out injured and Liam Lawrence may have to sit out another match on the bench since returning from a three month injury lay-off.
The 30 year old striker will want to prove that he can hack it in the Premier League after a lean spell at Everton between 2004 and 2006. But more than 30 goals in the last season and a half in the Championship can't be ignored.
Peter Walton It's not a good record this season when Walton is in the middle. 5-0 at Old Trafford and 3-0 at Ewood Park. Time for a change of fortune?
Tuesday 27th January: Spurs (away) kick-off: 8pm
Saturday 31st January: Man City (home) kick-off: 12.45pm
Saturday 7th February: Sunderland (away) kick-off: 3pm
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Date:Friday January 16 2009
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