Stoke City - Chelsea Preview: Blues without Mourinho as they travel to Potteries
Hazard will hope to regain a starting place this weekend against Stoke

Chelsea travel to Stoke City in the late kick off on Saturday, in a bid to try and salavge their domestic campaign and get revenge over Stoke City, after the Potters beat the Blues on penalties in the Capital One Cup.

Chelsea's woeful start

The defending champions are currently 15th in the table after 11 games, and have only tasted victory once in their last five games. It's Chelsea's worst ever start to a Premier League campaign, which has gone from bad to worse for the Londoners.

Stoke will go into the game and fancy their chances, not only because of Chelsea's terrible domestic record but the fact they beat them last week in the Capital One Cup. Even though that was on penalties, if Stoke turn up with the same application and attitude Chelsea will have plenty of problems to deal with.

Mourinho's absence may have an affect

Jose Mourinho won't be in Chelsea's dugout at the weekend, missing their trip to the Britannia after the ban he picked up. That was because of the comments he made about match officials after the 3-1 home defeat against Southampton.

The managers absence from the sideline may have a bigger impact than expected, with Chelsea picking up a crucial win against Dyanmo Kiev on Wednesday night. Mourinho was very animated, and was brilliant in motivating his players. That however will be missing on Saturday, so Chelsea will need to find a spark from somewhere else.

Willian could be the trump card

Having arguably saved his managers job earlier in the week with a stunning free kick against Dynamo Kiev, Willian could once again be the key man against Stoke on Saturday.

With Eden Hazard still struggling to find form, Willian's skill and quality could be the answer against Stoke tomorrow in a bid to try and relight their domestic campaign.

Team news

Branislav Ivanovic is expected to come back in to the first team, after recovering from injury that saw him miss the visit of Kiev in midweek. The Chelsea right-back has been suffering from a hamstring injury in recent weeks, and will be hoping to make a return against Stoke. Striker Radamel Falcao is still out for the blues after picking up an injury in training on Tuesday. 

Geoff Cameron comes back for Stoke after missing the last two games because of a thigh strain. Both Marc Muniesa and Shay Given are both expected to miss the game with hamstring and knee injuries respectively. Phil Bardsley though will give Mark Hughes some joy as he returns from a one-match ban after the red card against Chelsea last week.

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