Stoke’s have already claimed two sizeable scalps at home this season. They gave Arsenal their first defeat of the season thanks to debutant Jese’s goal and they also put an end to Manchester United’s one hundred percent record when they held Jose Mourinho’s men to a 2-2 draw a fortnight ago.
This afternoon they will look to add defending Premier League champions Chelsea to that list as Antonio Conte’s men travel to the Bet365 Stadium. If Mark Hughes is to add another team to the list he is going to have to do so without Kurt Zouma who cannot play against his parent club as per the loan deal arrangement.
Last week Stoke traveled to St James’ Park and came back empty handed after losing 2-1 to Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle. That result saw Newcastle earn their third straight victory while leaving Stoke still searching for their first away win of the campaign.
Xhedran Shaqiri did at one point look as if he may have given Stoke a share of the points after his well taken second half strike from the edge of the area nestled neatly past Newcastle Rob Elliot. That however only restored parity for a short while as Jamaal Lascelles scored his second winner in less than a week soon after.
It was a share of the points that Chelsea had to make do with when they played host to Arsenal last Sunday. In the end it was probably the right result, even if Arsenal fans will have you believe that it should have been they that left Stamford Bridge with all three points.
There would have undoubtedly been a level of frustration that they scored a blank in front of their own fans and once again Antonio Conte failed to get the better of Arsene Wenger. It is now just one win in five head to head encounters for the Italian.
The fact that they failed to breach Arsenal’s net will ultimately sit on the shoulders of Alvaro Morata and the pressure may well be felt even further going forward now that Diego Costa has returned to Atletico Madrid. With no direct rival and no one looming in his shadow he will have to step up to the mark and without doubt be the clubs talisman.
Not only was it a failure to score but also the fact that they given up another two points to both Manchester clubs. They are now third in the table, three points behind both City and United. You do however get the feeling that the top of the tree is already finding its natural level.
David Luiz misses out this afternoon after a reckless tackle on Sead Kolasinac saw him receive his marching orders. The fact that Chelsea finished a game against Arsenal with ten men for the third game in a row will be one for the conspiracy theorists.
It was arguably a tackle that was borne out of frustration as Chelsea could feel that any chance of victory was slipping through their fingers and the opportunity to get both Cup Final and Community Shield revenge was subsequently missed.
Had Pedro scored his one on one effort with former Blue Petr Cech then the complexion of the game could have been totally different but as it stands they came up against a dogged and determined Arsenal side and you would imagine the same will be said for their opponents Stoke this afternoon.
Stoke have found that extra gear against Arsenal and Manchester United as the Bet365 once again resembles a place that the big clubs do not want to visit and they will look to do the same again when the defending champions come to town.
This will be a sign of whether Chelsea can really force the issue at the top and make it a three way fight or whether or not they will have to make do with sitting on the Manchester coat tails. That said I have a feeling they will bounce back from Sunday’s draw with all three points this afternoon.
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— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) September 22, 2017