Stoke City head into their clash with Premier League leaders Chelsea having kept a clean sheet away at Manchester City, and Mark Hughes will have confidence in his side ahead of the match in the Potteries.
Chelsea are 10 points clear at the top of the table after losing just once since the middle of September, and Antonio Conte will relish the opportunity to try to become the first man to leave the bet365 Stadium with three points in a league fixture since November 19.
After Stoke’s dismal start to the season, Hughes has worked wonders to move the club into a place in the top half of the table, but he will now want his team to continue their progress and achieve eighth place by the end of May.
Conte has used the cup competitions this season to rotate his squad, but his first-choice team head into this fixture having already got 90 minutes in their legs earlier this week.
In the FA Cup quarter-finals, the Blues got the better of a Manchester United side who played almost two thirds of the fixture with 10 men, and it was a result which extended an unbeaten run that started on the first weekend of 2017.
Conte is expected to hand a recall to Pedro, who was an unused substitute against United despite scoring in three of his last four outings.
The only other selection dilemma is again likely to revolve around who starts out of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas in the centre of midfield.
Hughes has hinted that he will make changes to his starting lineup, despite their recent results, as he looks to cope with Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation.
The Welshman has revealed that Xherdan Shaqiri is fit again after almost two months on the sidelines, but Glen Johnson is unavailable to face one of his former clubs.
Stoke City starting XI: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, M.Indi, Pieters; Diouf, Cameron, Allen, Sobhi; Walters, Berahino
Chelsea starting XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Pedro, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Costa, Hazard
Editor’s Note- This promises to be a tough match. Chelsea are in form and obvious favourites, yet Stoke City are a formidable force when they play at home. I am going for Stoke 1-2 Chelsea. What about you? Drop Your Predictions below!!