While Chelsea keep putting pressure on Arsenal atop the Premier League table, the Gunners have been able to defend their lead in the title chase. All the Blues can do is keep finding ways to win against tricky opponents like Stoke City and hope Arsenal eventually suffer a drop in form.
Chelsea are coming off a thrilling 4-3 triumph over Sunderland. Although manager Jose Mourinho will be happy his group was able to secure the three points, the defensive lapses that allowed a struggling Black Cats side to keep it close are a cause for concern.
A more complete performance will be necessary on the road against Stoke, which have allowed just three goals in seven home fixtures. The Potters know they can't win a high-scoring shootout with Chelsea, so they'll put up a defensive wall and rely on counterattacks to create chances.
Let's take a look at all the important information for the weekend clash, followed by a breakdown of Chelsea's recent attacking success and a match prediction.
Where: Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, England
When: Saturday, Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. ET (3 p.m. GMT)
Watch: BBC One
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Match Forecast (via Bloomberg Sports)
Chelsea: 47.4 percent
Stoke: 26 percent
Draw: 26.6 percent
Top Storyline: Can Chelsea's attack continue to leave opponents in awe?
The Chelsea attack, which flashed top form but struggled to maintain it during the early portion of the campaign, has been on fire lately. Over the past four league matches, the Blues have found the net 12 times, including the four midweek to outlast Sunderland.
In that match, it was Eden Hazard who led the charge with a pair of goals. He was a constant force in the final third, showing why he's one of the most promising young players in the world. The Belgian had plenty of help, though, and that's what makes Chelsea so dangerous.
Unlike most clubs with high-powered offenses, the Blues don't have a dominant striker leading the way. They have given opportunities to Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba, but nobody from that trio has been able to establish themselves as a reliable option atop the formation.
Instead, Chelsea lean heavily on their deep midfield group to control the match and create scoring chances. Between Hazard, Oscar and the seemingly ageless Frank Lampard, among others, the club is able to push forward aggressively without needing a target man up front.
Slowing down an in-form attacking group like that will be a serious challenge, even for a strong defensive club like Stoke. The onus will be on the Ryan Shawcross-led back line to keep Chelsea, and especially Hazard, from setting up shop in dangerous scoring areas.
It's easier said than done, of course. Expect Chelsea to push the pace in the early going in an attempt to get Stoke out of their comfort zone. If the Potters can avoid that initial surge, they should be in good shape to get a positive result.
As always, Asmir Begovic could be the great equalizer for Stoke. The Bosnian goalkeeper is one of the best the Premier League has to offer. One or two key stops from him can change the complexion of the match, but he should expect a busy afternoon given how well Chelsea have been playing.
If the Blues can go into Britannia Stadium and score three or four goals, it would be a major statement. More likely, it will be more of a slow-paced, defensive battle. They should still be able to emerge with all three points, but they'll be forced to earn them.
Chelsea 1, Stoke 0
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