Chelsea-Stoke City Preview

RYAN WILLOX (STATS Football Writer)

Chelsea hope to turn up the heat on fellow title contenders Arsenal with a win at Stoke City on Saturday.

The Blues trail their London rivals by four points but victory over Stoke would heap the pressure on the Gunners whose lead would be cut to a single point ahead of their game against Everton on Sunday afternoon.

After dropping points to Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea secured their third league win in a row against Sunderland on Wednesday in a 4-3 thriller that followed victories against West Ham United and Southampton.

The epic win at the Stadium of Light was only Chelsea's third away from Stamford Bridge in seven road matches this season but defender Gary Cahill does not envisage the patchy away form hitting their title tilt.

"I don't worry too much about our away form," Cahill told the official Chelsea website. "It's something that we have spoken about before and it's something that we have looked to address. Our home form has been so good and if we can do the same away as we have done at home then it will be great.

"We went behind again yesterday early on and it's not ideal, but again we showed character. It was a tough game, especially after Sunday, but it's all about trying to win games and we did that in the end, so we're pleased."

Struggling Stoke (3-5-6) could not have asked for much worse opposition as they attempt to get their season back on track. Including all divisions Chelsea are unbeaten in 14 league matches against the Potters dating back to 1975.

Of more immediate concern to Stoke boss Mark Hughes is the fact his side have not scored in their last two league games.

The lack of goals notwithstanding, Hughes saw a marked improvement in the level of play from Saturday's 4-0 loss against Everton to Wednesday's scoreless draw with Cardiff City.

"In my opinion we should have won it," the former Chelsea striker told Stoke's official website. "I thought we were the team in control of the game; I was pleased with that aspect of our play because it's important that we're able to control the flow of the game. I know we did that but we needed something to drop for us in the box - that was what was missing from our play.

"We had a number of half chances but none that were clear-cut chances that we could have converted. Stephen Ireland had a chance at the end where it dropped nicely for him on the edge of the box but he wasn't able to capitalise. There were another couple of opportunities where we just skied shots and needed to be better on those occasions."

The Potters have scored only once in their last seven league meetings with Chelsea - a Jonathan Walters strike in a 1-1 draw in April 2011 - and have not found the net in the last four contests between the sides.

Stoke have traditionally been a welcoming venue for Chelsea, who have not lost in their last seven league visits dating back to that 3-0 defeat in April 1975.

The Potters have won just once in their 11 Premier League games since August (1-5-5) while Chelsea have won six of eight.

Oscar, David Luiz and Samuel Eto'o all missed Chelsea's midweek win. Of the three Eto'o is the most likely to see action against Stoke, having resumed training. For Stoke, Robert Huth is out and Marko Arnautovic is unlikely to feature.

Chelsea (9-3-2) took full points from Stoke last campaign. Ashley Cole struck the winner five minutes from time at Stamford Bridge. In the corresponding fixture, Walters had a nightmare, scoring two own goals before Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard struck to seal a 4-0 win. Just to cap the Ireland international's day, he missed a penalty in stoppage time.