Stoke City Vs Chelsea, Sat 2 Apr 2011

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Stoke: Begovic, Wilson, Shawcross, Huth, Higginbotham, Pennant, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Jones, Walters.

Subs: Nash, Collins, Fuller, Pugh, Diao, Whitehead, Wilkinson.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, David Luiz, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba, Anelka.

Subs: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Torres, Mikel, Zhirkov, Ferreira, Kalou.

Tony Pulis fears Fernando Torres is about to break his duck at Chelsea.

Torres heads for the Britannia Stadium on Saturday without a goal in five Barclays Premier League games since his record-breaking move from Liverpool in January.

Stoke manager Pulis believes the Spain striker will rediscover his touch - but hopes that it is later rather than sooner, especially as his side are just five points above the relegation zone.

Pulis said: "Torres is a quality player and it is just a matter of time once he has settled in London and settled at Chelsea he will find his form.

"The one thing you can guarantee he will start scoring again. I just hope it is not Saturday."

Pulis is backing former Chelsea defender Robert Huth to outsmart Torres, as the German has arguably been the club's player of the year.

"Robert will enjoy it and all our lads are really looking forward to the game. He has been a very good signing for us," said the Stoke boss.

Pulis believes Chelsea are still in with a chance of retaining their crown, although they are nine points adrift of leaders Manchester United but have a game in hand.

He said: "I saw them against Manchester City and I thought they played really well. They've had problems in the middle part of the season but they still have a great chance of the title. It is wide open.


"They have some great players. (Ashley) Cole, (John) Terry and (Frank) Lampard have been cornerstones of their success over the last six or seven years and deserve a lot of credit."

FA Cup semi-finalists Stoke are unbeaten at home in their past eight games in all competitions and victory against Carlo Ancelotti's side would take them to 40 points and potential safety.

He said: "Getting to that mark would be a watershed for us. We might need more points and that's why it is important to get there as quick as you can.

"We need the Britannia to be a fortress. The remaining four home games will be sell-outs and the supporters can drive us on. We need these points.

"It has been a very interesting league this season, not just at the bottom of the table but the top of the table as well."

Pulis will monitor the fitness of John Carew ahead of the match as the Norwegian striker has been suffering from a back complaint, causing him to miss the last two matches.

Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen is also suffering from a similar injury after breaking down in the warm-up for Denmark this week.

Pulis added: "John is still a little bit sore. We are hoping if he doesn't make it this weekend he should be ready the following weekend."

Carlo Ancelotti will check on the fitness of Salomon Kalou before choosing his forward line.

Kalou, who played 90 minutes for Ivory Coast on Sunday, has a slight knock but the Blues' other stars all returned unscathed from the international break.

And boss Ancelotti has cranked up the pressure on Manchester United and Arsenal by insisting neither of them can afford to make another mistake this season.

In what some might construe as the beginning of the managerial mind games for the Premier League run-in, Ancelotti reiterated his own side needed to win their nine remaining matches to stand any chance of completing one of the great title comebacks.

But the Italian also claimed any further mistakes by United and Arsenal would see the top two pay the ultimate price and miss out on the championship.

"To make a mistake now is very dangerous," said Ancelotti.

"Make a mistake here you can lose your possibility to win something.

"It's not just for us. Also Manchester United, also Arsenal. They cannot make a mistake either."

Chelsea are nine points behind United with a game in hand and four adrift of Arsenal.

The champions retaining their title looked unthinkable a month ago as they languished 15 points off top spot.

But a perfect March, which co-incided with a serious blip by their rivals, resurrected their hopes ahead of what will be a season-defining month. And on May 8 they have to visit Old Trafford in the Premier League.

"Always, in April, at the end of the season, you have to play calmly," said Ancelotti, whose side also take on United in the Champions League quarter-finals over the next 12 days.

"For me, we are ready to play.

"Three months ago, November or December, it would have felt like a dream to arrive in this situation now.

"I don't know what we will achieve in the end, but we have a possibility to fight."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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