Britannia Stadium – Sunday 22nd December at 20:00 live on Sky Sports 1
Monday night football comes from the Britannia Stadium this evening as Stoke take on top of the table Chelsea. Both sides seem to relish a Monday night fixture, with Stoke not losing in their last 6 and Chelsea only losing 1 in 19 live Monday night matches.
The Potters have had an inconsistent start to the season. They have taken on and beaten some of the better sides in the league, winning at White Hart Lane, a home win over Arsenal and a memorable 1-0 victory over Man City at the Etihad. Despite these results, Stoke sit 13th in the table and have lost 7 of their 16 matches. The Britannia is not as daunting to away sides as it used to be, Stoke have conceded at least one goal in 86% of their home matches this season. They average the same total of goals scored as goals conceded at home, 1.29 per game. More recently they have started to find the back of the net, scoring 10 in their last 5 and will be boosted by the return of Bojan Krkic.
Chelsea are top of the table for a reason, they have scored the most goals and conceded the fewest. They average 2.25 goals per game and only concede an average of 0.81. Only a couple of weeks ago, in a lot of people’s eyes, Chelsea had already won the title and talk was of a possible unbeaten season. That possibility ended last week after an away loss to Newcastle. The Blues go into tonight now level on points with an in-form Man City and will be looking to get back a 3 point cushion over last year’s Champions. There will be no panicking from José Mourinho but with a fairly tough Christmas, facing West Ham, Southampton and Spurs, he will want to go into those fixtures full of confidence after a win tonight.
This is an important game for Chelsea and José has said he will name his strongest possible starting XI after 5 days rest from their League Cup win over Derby. He knows they need to be picking up more points on the road and I believe he will play an attacking side this evening. My recommendation is to back Chelsea -1 @ 2.1 on the Asian Handicap.