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Rupert Wyman 13th Aug 2011 - 9:39

Chelsea can potter on at Stoke

Chelsea recorded their biggest away win last season when they thrashed Wigan 6-0 at the DW Stadium in August. They will want to start the season in-style! All the talk has been about Manchester United retaining their Premier League trophy but the Blues will have other ideas.

They bought Luiz and Torres during the winter transfer window and although Luiz settled quickly, Torres was not himself. He suffered concussion midweek but he is fit to face the Potters.  Chelsea are 7/10 to win the clash, the draw is 12/5 and the home win is 9/2.

This is Andre Villas-Boas' first competitive match as manager of the West London club.  He was undefeated in the league with Porto last season and he will not be fazed by a trip to the Britannia stadium.

Since Stoke were promoted in 2008, they have impressed everyone with how they have taken to life in the Premier League. Pulis has bought well and they play tough, resilient football. However, they have never beaten the Blues in the Premier League and once again it looks unlikely.

They could snatch a draw, Chelsea will have their work cut out against a strong defence. They will be up against their ex-defender Huth, a former Real Madrid player in Woodgate and the England International Shawcross.

Stoke are not a creative side and they will see a draw as a good result but they can counter-attack. Both teams to score is 10/11 and the Potters are a different proposition at the Britannia.  If you fancy Stoke to keep the Chelsea attack at bay, they are 16/5 to keep a clean sheet.

Chelsea will be looking for Torres to open his account and he is 9/2 to score the first. The Blues are without Sturridge, who is suspended for the first three games of the season. He has looked awesome in pre-season and he scored a double against Rangers in a friendly last week.

Stoke may have the edge in terms of match fitness and they have just played two Europa League fixtures, they are 11/4 to win draw no bet. They are also 23/20 +1 goal and Chelsea may not be that sharp. The players will need to adapt to a new style of play and Stoke's physical presence, could disrupt them.

The Match Winner offer is for any player to score a headed goal (2/1). Stoke have the 'Rory Delap throw-in factor' that could aid their cause and Chelsea are strong at set pieces with Drogba useful in the air.

Chelsea may stroll to victory or there could be a shock on the cards but for all Stoke's graft, they may not have enough quality to seal all three points.




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