Jose Mourinho will be keen to extend his remarkable December record, when Chelsea visit Staffordshire to take on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Portuguese tactician has never suffered a Premier League defeat in December, winning 15 of the 19 matches the Blues played during that period. And heading into this game, Chelsea - who are currently second in the table - will also take heart from their incredible record against Stoke.
The west London outfit has not lost to the Potters in any of their last 10 league meetings, winning eight of them. In fact, Stoke's last league triumph against Chelsea came way back in 1975.
The Blues are now on a three-match winning streak in the league but after conceding three goals to rockbottom Sunderland, in a 4-3 win in midweek, Mourinho is keen on improving his side's defensive record, especially against a team like Stoke, who are good at set-pieces.
"Stoke is difficult, they're a very physical team and strong at set pieces, but I don't think we are fragile in that area. We were analysing the three goals at Sunderland and we couldn't find the real mistake. We could find the rebound, the second ball, the ball that hits somebody and goes in the direction of the opponent," Mourinho pointed out.
"For all three goals we were trying to find defensive positional mistakes in relation to the way we prepared for the game, but there was not one mistake. We know Stoke are strong in that aspect and we have to try to cope," he added.
Meanwhile, the Potters sit 14th in the table, just four points clear of the drop zone. Mark Hughes' men have not been winning enough games of late but have managed to avoid defeat in four of their last five matches.
Hughes is aware of his club's poor record against Chelsea but is still confident of managing a positive result on Saturday. The former Manchester United star also feels Mourinho is fielding a more attack-minded team this season, compared to his previous stint with the Blues.
"We're Stoke City and we feel at the Britannia Stadium we can beat anybody. That's our intent. The fact that they have slipped up away from home is a positive for us. They've conceded from a number of set-plays and you sometimes find that with teams who are good from set-plays, they are not so good defensively," Hughes stressed.
"They are a little bit different and they are not exactly the same. But sometimes if that's your natural instincts to get ahead and shut up shop, then they will revert to type. But certainly there's a little bit more freedom to their play, which there wasn't in the past," the Welshman added.
Stoke: Defender Robert Huth (knee) and winger Matthew Etherington (back) are out, while wing-back Erik Pieters (groin) is a doubt for this clash. However, forward Jonathan Walters has recovered from a dead leg and is available.
Chelsea: Mourinho will be without David Luiz and Marko van Ginkel (both knee) who remain sidelined. But Samuel Eto'o is back from a groin problem, while Oscar (ankle) has a late test lined up to confirm his participation.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for an 8.30 pm IST start on Saturday, with live coverage on Star Sports HD1. You can also watch the action via live streaming by clicking HERE. To catch the action in the US, click HERE. For live streaming in the Middle East and North Africa, click HERE.
Expected lineups: Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Arnautovic, Whelan, Adam, N'Zonzi, Assaidi; Crouch
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Lampard; Willian, Mata, Hazard; Eto'o
Prediction: 2-1 to Chelsea
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