Chelsea vs. Stoke City: Team News, Live Stream, TV Info, Ticket News

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2016

Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England on November 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS

RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications..        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Guus Hiddink says Chelsea will not have one eye on the UEFA Champions League when they face Stoke City on Saturday.

The Potters' visit to Stamford Bridge this weekend kickstarts a pivotal week in Chelsea's season. After entertaining Mark Hughes' side, the Blues come up against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday before facing Everton in the FA Cup three days later.

Hiddink says his approach will be to take it game by game, meaning playing Stoke is the top of his priorities.

"Of course, we have the upcoming two games on our mind but—and it’s a big but—we take all Premier League games very seriously, and we will have the same approach [against Stoke]. 

"We will not allow us to make this a pre-game for Wednesday. This is not good for the team. We must stay in the dynamic of the last weeks.

"If you put your focus too far away, even if it’s just four or seven days, it’s not good."

NORWICH, ENGLAND - MARCH 01:  Guus Hiddink interim manager of Chelsea and Steve Holland assistant coach are seen prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Chelsea at Carrow Road on March 1, 2016 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Ju
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The dynamic of recent weeks that Hiddink was referring to in his Friday news conference has seen Chelsea win three Premier League games on the bounce. That's been their best run of form all season, so the logic stands that the manager doesn't want his team to lose momentum.

Saturday's game sees the league's two form sides come to blows, too. As well as Chelsea's recent good form, Stoke themselves are enjoying something of a purple patch. Having lost three straight league games in early February, Hughes' men have flipped the form guide on its head with three wins in a row.

The latest came in midweek when the Potters ground out a 1-0 win over Newcastle United that leaves them seventh in the table.

If Chelsea can beat Stoke, they will leapfrog them thanks to a superior goal difference. If results go their way, that could leave the Blues just five points off the top four.

It's all to play for, which is why Hiddink can't afford to juggle competitions.

 

Match Details

Date: Saturday, March 5

Time: 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET

Venue: Stamford Bridge, London

TV Info: Match of the Day, BBC1 (10.30pm, UK only)/NBC Sports (U.S. only)

Live Stream: No UK live stream/NBCSN (U.S. only)

 

Last 5 Games

Chelsea
Feb. 13 Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle United
Feb. 16 Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Chelsea
Feb. 21 Chelsea 5-1 Manchester City
Feb. 27 Southampton 1-2 Chelsea
Mar. 1Norwich City 1-2 Chelsea
Chelsea FC
Stoke City
Feb. 2Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City
Feb. 6Stoke City 0-3 Everton
Feb. 13Bournemouth 1-3 Stoke City
Feb. 27Stoke City 2-1 Aston Villa
Mar. 2Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle United
Stoke City FC

 

Predicted Lineups

COBHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15:  John Terry of Chelsea looks on during a Chelsea training session ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 match against Paris Saint-Germain at Chelsea Training Ground on February 15, 2016 in Cobham, England.  (Photo
Harry Engels/Getty Images

John Terry remains sidelined for Chelsea with the hamstring injury picked up against Newcastle United last month.

"He’s not fit to start this weekend," Hiddink explained on Friday. "He’s with the physios, and he’s also training, but he’s not with the group yet. We’ll see how it goes for Wednesday. Pedro is the same."

Kenedy is expected to miss out with a groin injury he picked up against Norwich City on Tuesday.

As for Stoke, Ryan Shawcross, Glen Johnson, Charlie Adam and Phil Bardsley are all out. Geoff Cameron remains a doubt.

 

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Rahman; Mikel, Fabregas; Willian, Hazard, Traore; Diego Costa

Stoke City (4-1-4-1): Butland; Cameron, Muniesa, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan; Shaqiri, Imbula, Affelay, Arnautovic; Walters

 

Key Players

Cesar Azpilicueta

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's on February 27, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

It's not often the Spaniard gets put in this bracket, but with Stoke's wingers causing teams plenty of problems this season—especially of late—Azpilicueta is going to be vital to preventing Chelsea being bombarded in the box on Saturday.

Part of the way this team plays is to attack on the flanks before whipping balls for the likes of Jonathan Walters to attack through the middle. It's been effective in stretching opponents but also maintaining that physical element the Potters are known for.

Coming up against any of Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Ibrahim Afellay, Azpilicueta will need to be at his best to help provide some defensive solidity.

 

Xherdan Shaqiri

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Newcastle United at the Britannia Stadium on March 2, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Alex
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Shaqiri hasn't quite impacted the Premier League in the way Stoke fans would have been hoping. We've seen flashes of his brilliance, but the consistency hasn't been there.

The Swiss is gradually getting better in that regard, though, and we saw him terrorise Newcastle United in midweek, winning the game for Stoke with a long-range goal.

Chelsea know all about what he's capable of, too. Shaqiri gave Baba Rahman a going over in the Capital One Cup tie earlier this season, and considering his recent form, the expectation is that he'll be at it again at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea need to stop the former Bayern Munich man on Saturday.

 

Ticket Information

For ticket information on all Premier League games, visit the official site or go to the ticket page on Chelsea's official website. Secondary ticket information for Chelsea can be found here.

 

Prediction

Chelsea 2-1 Stoke City

 

Odds

Home Win: -222

Away Win: +589

Draw: +323

First Goalscorer: Diego Costa (7/2)

Odds via Odds Shark and Oddschecker

 

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes