Roberto Di Matteo will begin the unenviable task of trying to turn around Chelsea’s Premier League fortunes on Saturday, when they welcome Stoke to Stamford Bridge, with William Hill offering a tantalising 5/1 for Frank Lampard to score the first goal.
The Italian was appointed as caretaker manager until the end of the season, following the sacking of former manager Andre Villas-Boas.
His reign began with a tricky FA Cup replay away from home to Birmingham – a game which he successfully navigated with a comfortable 2-0 win.
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But these days, Stoke are an altogether different proposition, with their direct and physical route having helped them to European qualification last season.
However, since the Potters returned to the Premier League, they are yet to enjoy success over Chelsea, having been on the end of five defeats in their seven games over that period. This sequence includes a 7-0 annihilation back in April 2010, but it would be a lie to suggest Chelsea carry the same threat these days.
Sitting in fifth place in the table, the Blues have already lost seven games this season, as well as drawing the same amount, and furthermore, they find themselves on the verge of crashing out of the Champions’ League after a disappointing first leg defeat to Napoli.
Stoke, meanwhile, have seen their stock rise considerably over the past few seasons, under the guidance of Tony Pulis.
Although they have been branded as a long ball team, with the long throw as their main weapon, they have slowly begun to add a number of top class players to their squad, and now have an altogether different dimension to their game.
Nevertheless, they have endured a tricky run of form of late, picking up only two victories from their six matches in February.
It should prove to be an intriguing game, with the two sides now arguably closer than they have ever been before.