Chelsea are coming off one of their worst weeks. The defeat to Inter in Champions League was followed by a defeat to Manchester City. To add to their woes the red card for Ballack and Belletti means that two more Chelsea players will not be available for the next round of FA cup clash against Stoke. The missing list for Chelsea now includes Essien, A. Cole, Peter Cech, and Yuri Zirkhov.
Stoke come into the next round of the FA cup after defeating Manchester City 3-1. Sadly, Ryan Shawcross will miss the game after receiving a three game suspension. It is a must win game for both teams. Stoke will want to extend their dream run into the FA cup by scalping another big team. A win against the FA cup champions will mean a lot to Stoke City.
Chelsea need to win this game not only to get to the next round, but also to boost their confidence. Chelsea have been low on confidence after their horrific defeat at the hands of Manchester City. With another game against Inter in the horizon, Chelsea need this moral boosting win to regroup and recover before their season slips out of their hands.
John Terry has not been up to form and it is imperative that the Chelsea captain pull himself out of the slump and lead the defense line for Chelsea. The defensive line for Chelsea has been ravaged by injuries. Ashley Cole, the full time left back, has suffered an ankle fracture that rules him out till the end of the season. Also missing is Jose Bosingwa who too is ruled out till the end of the season. Ricardo Carvahlio also picked up an injury while playing in the internationals and will most probably be replaced by the big Brazilian center back Alex in the line up. The most telling will be the absence of Chelsea's regular No. 1 Peter Cech. He will most probably be replaced by Hillario.
Stoke are facing Chelsea's defense at their weakest and their win against City show that this team is surely determined. While history and the squad strength will favor Chelsea this will surely be a very tough match with Chelsea now also having trouble in the midfield department with the absence of two prominent midfielders and Joe Cole and Mikel currently out of form.
Will Malouda be back in his preferred left wing or will he play left back is a question whose answer will only be revealed after Ancelotti reveals his lineup. However, given the amount of injuries one would predict very few surprises in the Chelsea lineup. The result, however, will be much harder to predict in this David versus Goliath match-up in Stamford Bridge.