Stoke v Chelsea – Match preview and team news

Stoke City prepare to welcome a Chelsea side suffering from their Capital One Cup semi-final defeat to Swansea City this week, aiming to collect three points that could move them into the European places.

Tony Pulis has a near fully fit to choose from and will rotate his XI from the side that drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace in the FA Cup last week. Michael Owen and Peter Crouch may make way for Kenwyne Jones and Matthew Etherington while Asmir Begovic should return in goal in place of Thomas Sorensen. Rory Delap (hernia) and Mark Wilson (broken leg) are the Potters’ only absentees.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are looking to cement their place in the Champions League places after effectively giving up on the Premier League title following their shock 1-0 home defeat to relegation-threatened QPR.

Under-pressure interim boss Rafa Benitez has a decision to make up front with Demba Ba, who scored twice on his debut for the club at Southampton in the FA Cup last week, vying to replace a struggling Fernando Torres while legendary duo Frank Lampard and John Terry are also vying for recalls in defence and midfield.

Elsewhere, Petr Cech remains injured so Ross Turnbull should continue in goal while Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel are away at the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving space for Lampard to return to the starting XI with one eye on Bobby Tambling’s all-time goalscoring record for Chelsea, which he currently lies nine behind.

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