EPL: Tough Stoke trip for Chelsea as City goal rush set to continue
Well, it isn’t going to be the clichéd wet, windy Wednesday night fixture for Chelsea at Stoke. It is more a Saturday afternoon fixture at the bet365 stadium. Stoke City coach, Mark Hughes already has a major challenge to grapple with. Hughes has just one centre back available to fill one of the spots in his 3-man defence. Kurt Zouma can’t play against his parent club because of the Premier League loan rules, Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron are injured while Kevin Wimmer struggles with a hamstring injury. Bruno Martins Indi is the only fit senior centre defender that HIghes can call upon.
Stoke City vs Chelsea
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea will be looking to replicate their brilliant showing in the Carabao cup where they comprehensively defeated Nottingham Forest with Michy Batshuayi scoring a hat-trick. It is unlikely the striker starts in the game against Stoke City despite his brilliant performance midweek. Eden Hazard is set to get his first Premier League start after regaining full fitness and his selfless showing against Forest.
The potential link up between Alvaro Morata and Hazard is quite tasty with the intelligent movement of the Morata fitting for Hazard’s creativity on the wings. The selfless nature of Hazard’s play would be exciting for Morata who has struggled to be the central goal-scoring figure in his previous clubs. At Juventus, there was Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente to grapple with while at Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo ran the rule ahead of the more established duo of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. The striker had to settle for a bit-part role at Real Madrid but his knack for finding the back of the net earned him a move to Chelsea. The bet365 could become the birthing ground of an interesting partnership where Morata is oft on the end of a Hazard assist. Departing Diego Costa can attest to how much he benefitted from the Belgian superstar who created chances for the striker.
Stoke City have held their own brilliantly against the top brass of the Premier League this season at the bet365, the Potters defeated Arsenal and held Manchester United to a draw at home. Chelsea should not expect a stroll in the park, Hazard or not.
Man City vs Crystal Palace – Another City goal rush?
Manchester City, with 11 goals in their past two Premier League games host bottom side Crystal Palace at the Etihad. There can be no worse time for Roy Hogdson (two games into the job) to face the joint most prolific attack in the League. Sergio Aguero netted a hat-trick in City’s last League match against Watford and another hat-trick against Palace will place him as Manchester City’s all-time highest goalscorer ahead of Eric Brooks with 177 goals from 493 appearances. If Aguero surpasses the record against Palace, it would have taken him 187 City appearances to get to 178 goals.
Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have dovetailed perfectly to form the League’s most fearsome forward partnership. The duo with a combined nine goals this season has the creative force of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne behind them. That the hungry Leroy Sane could be unleashed, perhaps from the start, rewarding his brace in the Carabao cup makes it grimmer reading for Palace.
Pep’s side could be described top-heavy with flying full backs and five forward thinking players, he’d worry less about their defensive solidity against a side yet to score a Premier League goal.
Roy Hodgson will engage in every form of machination to stymie the goals of Pep Guardiola’s side but the brute attacking force of the City might be unstoppable especially for a side shorn of quality defenders.
Full Fixtures Today
West Ham 12:30 Spurs
Stoke 15:00 Chelsea
Man City 15:00 Crystal Palace
Burnley 15:00 Huddersfield
Everton 15:00 Bournemouth
Southampton 15:00 Man Utd
Swansea 15:00 Watford
Leicester 17:30 Liverpool
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