Stoke V Chelsea at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview

06 December 2013 04:31
Stoke V Chelsea - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Hughes wants Britannia frenzy

Mark Hughes wants his Stoke side to whip the Britannia Stadium crowd into a frenzy as the Potters look to end a miserable run against Chelsea on Saturday.

Hughes was among the Chelsea team the last time Stoke beat the Blues in a League Cup game in 1995, while their most recent league victory came 38 years ago.

It is not something Hughes will be dwelling on, the Potters boss saying: "You can use those stats if they're in your favour as a positive but if they're negative you probably skirt round them.

"I don't think I'll mention that fact before the game. We have to focus on the future and not look too much into the past."

Their Premier League meetings have not been completely one-sided, with Stoke holding Chelsea to draws at the Britannia Stadium in 2010/11 and 2011/12.

Under Tony Pulis, the Potters crowd delighted in frustrating the big guns and proving people wrong.

They have lost only once at home since Hughes took over in the summer but patience appeared to be wearing thin during Wednesday's goalless draw with Cardiff and boos rang out as the players left the pitch.

A 2-0 victory over 10-man Sunderland last month is Stoke's only win in their past 11 league games, and Hughes knows his players must do more to excite the fanbase.

He said: "The one thing we've got going for us is our record at the Britannia. You always sense there's a little bit of apprehension in opposition teams.

"The Britannia needs to be a really difficult place to come to, and for the most part it has been this season.

"To be able to get the crowd with us we have to give them something to cheer and we've got to get momentum in our play and have sustained pressure.

"If we can do that then Chelsea know it will be difficult for them."

Wednesday at least brought a point and a clean sheet, and Hughes was happy with the reaction to their 4-0 mauling by Everton last weekend.

He said: "We weren't able to find that final pass or that key moment in the game, but that was all that was missing from our performance I felt.

"It was exactly what we needed after Everton. I thought we showed a lot of confidence and got back to where I expected us to be. That's good leading into the Chelsea game.

"It's a big test, obviously. At the moment they seem to be scoring lots of goals and have lots of options in terms of personnel.

"It's very difficult to second guess which way they'll go because they have any number of combinations of players that will cause you a problem.

"But the easy part is knowing that you're going to be up against quality players that will test you."

Chelsea are in a fine run of form having won six of their past eight Premier League games to move into second place behind Arsenal.

Jose Mourinho's return to English football has not been entirely smooth but Hughes does not expect any negativity to have had an effect on the Portuguese.

"He's gone back to a club that he knows and obviously the reception that he got when he went back and the goodwill that surrounds him and Chelsea is there for everybody to see," said Hughes, a childhood Chelsea fan.

"The Premier League is a league he knows well and knows he can be successful in.

"Maybe some people looked at a couple of indifferent performances and questioned a little bit about what's gone on, but Jose's been at top clubs and that's what happens at top clubs. It's not something that's going to faze him."

Stoke's main injury doubt is Erik Pieters, who will have a late fitness test on a groin strain he suffered against Cardiff.

He is rated as very doubtful so Spaniard Marc Muniesa is likely to deputise while Marc Wilson should keep his place in central defence and Jonathan Walters has recovered from the dead leg that halted his run of consecutive Premier League starts at 102.

Mourinho insists the identity of Manchester United ensures they remain Barclays Premier League title contenders.

A 1-0 defeat by Everton on Wednesday night has seen David Moyes' side slip 12 points behind leaders Arsenal, but Mourinho believes they are still in contention.

The Portuguese, who has denied plotting a January move for unsettled Monaco striker Radamel Falcao, insists the philosophy at United enables Moyes to stay patient.

"If it was another club I'd tell you it's impossible, but with Manchester United I don't say that," Mourinho said. "The reasons are because of the potential of the team, what the club represents and the culture of the club.

"It's not a club in panic. It's not a club where you feel the end of the world is arriving. They are calm, they go the same way and support the manager. Nobody touches the manager.

"They have a project. If they don't win this season they believe they will win next season.

"It's a very, very stable situation and an example to many others. Because of that they are still a contender.

"They will stick together, they will fight and try to get 12 to 15 points in a row. Yes they are still a contender.

"They will wait for matches between Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham when others will lose points."

Arsenal head the Premier League by four points - Chelsea are second - but Mourinho refused to add his voice to the debate on whether they are capable of sustaining a title challenge.

"Arsenal lead and if they lead it's because they have more points than other people and because they are better and have made less mistakes," he said.

"If they are there it's because they deserve to be there. But the championship finishes in May. Let's see what happens then."

Chelsea travel to Stoke on Saturday to conclude a run of three Premier League matches in seven days, two of them away.

In contrast title rivals Arsenal face the same number of games but over nine days. Mourinho describes the discrepancy as a "big coincidence".

"This is like preparation for the Christmas period," he said.

"This week is a hard week because we start on a Sunday, not even on a Saturday, playing Southampton, but finish on a Saturday.

"For some clubs it's Saturday-Sunday when for us it's Sunday-Saturday. Once more when it comes to fixtures, we are always in trouble. It's a big coincidence.

"I don't like to give a day off to the players after a big game, but I'll have to give them the day off on Sunday. I don't think it's good for their body, but it's good for their heads.

"I like to give physiological recovery, but the mental point of view is more important. It's important they have a free Sunday to disconnect."

Defender David Luiz will miss the Barclays Premier League clash with a knee injury and Mourinho insists a date for Luiz's return has yet to be set.

A late decision will be made on midfielder Oscar, who has recovered from an ankle problem, and striker Samuel Eto'o is back from a groin problem.

Source: PA

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