This is a huge weekend for Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. Up to this point, the Chelsea fans have displayed full support to their favourite manager. But for how long?
Sitting uncomfortably 15th in the league, should Chelsea lose at Stoke, it will be their fourth successive Premier League defeats, and they will be 14 points off the top four with almost a third of the season gone.
It has been a bumpy ride to the season for Mark Hughes’ men. It took them seven Premier League games to get their first league victory of the season.
Since that 2-1 victory over Bournemouth on 26th September, they went on to register consecutive victories against Aston Villa and Swansea. However, they are winless in their last two league matches, losing 2-0 at home to Watford and drawing 0-0 against Newcastle.
In contrast, Chelsea have won only twice in their last six Premier League games, and six of their first 11 games already. Defence has been in absolute shambles, having conceded 22 goals already, more than any other team in top 15.
Last week, they were humiliated 3-1 at the Bridge by Liverpool, the aftermath Mourinho repeatedly said he had “nothing to say” in the post-match interview.
Several Chelsea players have come out and backed their manager publicly, fans have made their voice felt showing full support to their under-pressure manager, but their on-pitch performances are betraying their off-field sentiments.
Mourinho breathed a huge sigh of relief after Chelsea won their midweek Champions League game against Kiev. However, that victory hardly gives the signal that the crisis has been averted, and that Chelsea have turned a corner.
More problems for Chelsea ahead of the match, as Mourinho will not be present on the touchline due to his one-match stadium ban.
Stoke City Team News
Chelsea loanee Marco van Ginkel will miss the match, as the Dutchman is ineligible to face his parent club.
Shay Given and Marc Muniesa are sidelined. Geoff Cameron is expected to return after missing the previous two games with a thigh injury.
Chelsea Team News
Chelsea have no major injury issues at the moment. Thibaut Courtois is missing once more. The Belgian is unlikely to return before December. Colombian striker Radamel Falcao is also sidelined while Branislav Ivanovic is doubtful for the match.
Stoke City possible lineup: Butland, Pieters, Wollscheld, Shawcross, Johnson, Whelan, Adam, Arnautovic, Bojan, Shaqiri, Diouf
Chelsea Possible Lineup: Begovic, Zouma, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Matic, Pedro, Hazard, Willian, Costa
Key Stats: Stoke City vs Chelsea
1 – Stoke have beaten Chelsea once in the Premier League
3 – Stoke have lost three of their five league matches at home
9 – Stoke have scored the fewest goals in the league – 9 in 11.
12 – Chelsea conceded 12 goals away from home in five away games.
Prediction: Stoke City 1-1 Chelsea