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CHELSEA vs Stoke: FA Cup Preview

FA Cup sixth round


Venue:
Stamford Bridge

Date: Sunday, 7 March

Kick-off: 1600 GMT

Our last game was nothing short of a nightmare and yesterday saw United take their opportunity – and top spot, with Arsenal also drawing level with us in the table. We won’t be able to do anything about that this weekend without a league game but what we will be able to do is progress to the semi finals of the FA Cup. First though, we’ll need to put in a better performance than we have done in our last couple of games if we’re to get past a Stoke side that have already seen off two Premier League sides to get to this point.

MANAGERS’ VIEWS

Carlo Ancelotti seems to have been fairly quiet in the run up to this game although assistant coach Ray Wilkins says “The FA Cup is massive. Thinking back to last May and the joy we experienced in the dressing room at Wembley. These guys play this game to win trophies and we want to win the trophy badly. We will play against a Stoke side who have had a fantastic season up to now. They play with a lot of quality. Full credit to Stoke because we are in for a very tough game. What Tony Pulis has done is quite exceptional. He has been able to blend two ways of playing. They have played with a lot of style at times. We will have to defend very bravely when the long throws and the set-pieces come in but they are part and parcel of the game and we have to be up for it.”

Stoke City manager says “We go there as rank underdogs and no-one will give us a chance. It is going to be a tough game and we’ve played some tough games over the last couple of weeks. But we’ll go down there, try to enjoy it and do the best we can because it is 38 years since this club was in an FA Cup quarter-final. We are the underdogs and have nothing to lose. Chelsea will be smarting. The defeat against City will have given them a kick up the backside so it will be all systems go for us on Sunday. Chelsea are a fantastic team and they are deservedly top of the table, but I’ll be thinking about a semi-final at Wembley, the players will be thinking about it. We (Stoke and Chelsea) are all in the same boat. We know what is at the end of it if we can get the result everyone wants. No-one will give us a chance again, like they didn’t at Eastlands and at our place against Arsenal. We just hope we can put a performance in where we play to our maximum and get a few decisions going for us and not against us. I’d take a replay now, I’d settle for that. It would be fantastic to bring them back to the Britannia. I would have preferred the game at the Britannia but we have to make sure we go down there and give it the best we can.”

SQUAD NEWS

We’re looking a bit thin on the ground defensively, with Petr Cech out injured and both Ashley Cole and Yuri Zhirkov still missing at left-back. Neither Jose Bosingwa nor Michael Essien will make it back again this season and Ricardo Carvalho faces a late fitness test. Michael Ballack and Juliano Belletti both miss out through suspension.

For Stoke, Higginbotham and Etherington face late fitness tests and Ryan Shawcross serves a three-match ban following his red card for that challenge on Ramsey last weekend.

TEAMS

CHELSEA (from): Hilario, Turnbull, Ivanovic, Carvalho, Kalou, Matic, Alex, Drogba, Malouda, Ferreira, Terry, Borini, Lampard, Obi, Deco, Sturridge, Anelka, Zhirkov.

STOKE (from): Sorensen, Wilkinson, Whitehead, Abdoulaye Faye, Huth, Collins, Lawrence, Pugh, Whelan, Diao, Tuncay, Delap, Etherington, Sidibe, Fuller, Kitson, Higginbotham, Simonsen, Beattie, Davies, Amdy Faye.

LAST MEETING

Stoke 1-2 Chelsea (12 September 2009)

PREDICTION

We’ve lost our last two games in all competitions and our defeat at home to City last weekend signaled the end of a 37 game unbeaten home run. Stoke, on the other hand, haven’t lost away since Boxing Day and with us missing Petr Cech and managing only 2 clean sheets since the whole JT ‘thing’ came out, I think we’re in for a tough time again today.

REFEREE

Martin Atkinson

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