Stoke vs Chelsea – PREVIEW

Sunday, August 14: Stoke v Chelsea (1.30pm)                                                                                                                                                                           
Chelsea are confident that Fernando Torres will be fit and available for Sunday’s Barclays Premier League opener against Stoke.                                                                                                                                                                                                           
On Wednesday evening, Torres was concussed in Spain’s friendly defeat against Italy and he even suffered some memory loss, yet is expected to be available for selection at the Britannia Stadium.                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Andrea Villas-Boas will have to be without Daniel Sturridge who is suspended, David Luiz who is injured and Branislav Ivanovic is also doubtful. Michael Essien’s injury problems have been highly publicised and unfortunately he will miss the majority of the season.                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Tony Pulis, has confirmed that Matthew Upson will not make his Stoke debut as he is lacking match fitness, but ex-Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate could play.                                                                                                                                                                                 
Two players battling against the clock are Rory Delap (hamstring) and Matthew Etherington (rib), both of whom hope to be fit. Unfortunately for the home side Danny Higginbotham, Mamady Sidibe and Ricardo Fuller are all injured and will miss out.                                                                                                                                                                 
Past Meetings                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Having played at the Britannia Stadium four times, Chelsea have never lost. Many would say that last season’s 1-1 draw in April, ended the Blues hopes of retaining the league title – Especially as it was on the same day Manchester United beat West Ham 4-2 after trailing 2-0.                                                                                                                                                                           
As hosts, Stoke’s last seven games against Sunday’s visitors Chelsea has seen them fail to collect a single victory – This includes five league matches and two in the cup.                                                                                                                                                                                 
Last season did not start well for Stoke, after three games they had no points and had been easily beaten by Chelsea. The Blues in contrast won their first five league games and managed to score an impressive 21 goals.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Key Men                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Stoke City – Rory Delap, if the Irishman is fit, his long throws could cause the Blues’ defence a lot of trouble, especially as first-choice centre back Luiz is missing.                                                                                                                                                       
Chelsea – Frank Lampard, with Torres and Didier Drogba struggling for goals, the Blues will once again rely on Frank to continue his excellent scoring record from midfield.                                                                                                                                                                                                           
By Scott Balaam
Twitter @theshed11

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