Chelsea - Stoke City Preview: Can the Blues maintain their momentum?

Chelsea's efforts to secure a top half of the table position will meet a tough test in the form of Stoke City.

Chelsea - Stoke City Preview: Can the Blues maintain their momentum?
Image credit: VAVEL (Jonny Walsh)

An incredibly important eight days kicks off with a home league game to Stoke City. Chelsea will hoping to pick up another three points as well as taking some valuable momentum into the return leg with PSG and the FA Cup tie with Everton, in a period that could make or break the club's season. 

Facts and figures

Coming into the game unbeaten in the league under Guus Hiddink (11), the Blues will be confident that they can get the job done against Mark Hughes' side. After three wins in a row in the league, Chelsea will not want to slow their momentum down here as they are currently in their highest league position since August. 

Stoke don't visit Stamford Bridge with a good history at the ground, having failed to score in six of their last nine games at the London's club stadium. A victory for Chelsea would see them go above Stoke in the table on goal difference. 

Can Costa continue his good run of form? | Image source: Chelsea FC
Can Costa continue his good run of form? | Image source: Chelsea FC

Youth involvement 

Ever since returning to the Bridge, Hiddink has made it clear he is willing to give some of the club's young prospects an opportunity in the team, with Kenedy and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both featuring plenty of times under the interim manager. Kenedy played a vital role in Chelsea's victory over Norwich midweek by getting on the score sheet, and the game against Stoke could provide him with his next chance to shine. 

With so many key games coming up, Hiddink may look to rotate his squad a little and potentially rest some of his bigger names such as Diego CostaBertrand Traore, who picked up an assist midweek, will be hoping to gain some game time this weekend and continue his development.

Team news 

Hiddink will still be without Radamel Falcao and Kurt Zouma but will be boosted by the return of captain, John Terry but whether or not he risks starting the defender will remain to be seen and he could make his return only to sit on the bench. Pedro will be unavailable to Chelsea as he continues to recover from a hamstring strain and Kenedy also is a doubt after picking up a groin injury, although it is thought to only be minor.