Stoke City entertain league leaders Chelsea on Monday in the last of this weekend’s fixtures and they have already seen off the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur this season, so Mark Hughes’s men will have no fears about his side ahead of this tie.
There is added pressure on Chelsea, as Manchester City could draw level on points when they face Crystal Palace in the lunchtime fixture on Saturday.
Stoke have beaten Chelsea and drawn against the leaders twice in home games since their return to top-flight football.
They have had a steady start to this campaign and will be looking to push themselves into the top half of the table.
With big name signings for this season like Bojan Krkic, they are heading in the right direction to becoming a club who can push for European football in the next few years.
The Potters have a difficult festive period and new year ahead, with tough games coming thick and fast:
- Stoke City vs Chelsea (22/12/14)
- Everton vs Stoke City (26/12/14)
- Stoke City vs West Bromwich Albion (28/12/14)
- Stoke City vs Manchester United (01/01/15)
They will be looking to improve on last season’s 9th place finish and if they can turn defeats into victories, finishing in the top six within the next few seasons could be a real possibility.
Upsetting the ‘bigger sides’ in the Premier League is helping their progression no end and although teams don’t take any games for granted in such a tight league, people are taking note.
They have moved a long way since their dreaded references to playing football in a ‘rugby’ manner, with less long passing and throwing, but the reality of that style of play is teams use those techniques when their backs are up against the wall.
With this developing style of play it will be an intriguing tie on Monday night.
Jose Mourinho has already spoken about how difficult Bojan can be as a player and will be expecting a tough tie this time around.
Could Stoke City make the push for Europe?