Chelsea predicted line-up v Stoke City

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With their Premier League and Champions League ambitions both having taken a severe knock in the past seven days, it certainly hasn't been the greatest of weeks for Chelsea.

Last Saturday's shock 1-0 defeat to struggling Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park - which came as a result of John Terry's unfortunate second-half own goal - saw them fall behind in the title race, while Jose Mourinho's mood would have been further darkened by Tuesday's largely lifeless display that saw the Blues slump to a 3-1 quarter-final defeat at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain.

While their Champions League fate will be quickly determined with the second tie against the wealthy Ligue 1 outfit to come at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening, Chelsea will surely know that they can afford no-more slip-ups if they are to successfully win the top-flight title that they last lifted under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010.

Chelsea's next chance to make amends for their most recent defeats comes tomorrow, with Mark Hughes' Stoke the visitors in the Premier League for a 17:30 kick-off.

And while you might back a team with title aspirations to comfortably dispatch of mid-table opponents on their own patch, Stoke have been in strong form of late and are unbeaten in their last five fixtures.

Indeed, Stoke have won their last three games, with a 4-1 thumping of Aston Villa the highlight. Hughes' side have also been impressive against so-called 'bigger clubs' this season, with wins over Manchester United, Arsenal and in the previous fixture against Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium.

Focusing on the hosts for a moment, Mourinho will be boosted by the return of Nemanja Matic, with the Serbian midfielder - who returned to Chelsea from Benfica in January - ineligible for the match with PSG.

John Obi Mikel is set to miss out through injury, Dutch starlet Marco van Ginkel remains absent whilst veteran forward Samuel Eto'o is still not available.

The real conundrum, as is often the case with Chelsea these days, will be who to be play in the final third.

Mourinho boldly selected German international Andre Schurrle to play the lone striker role ahead of the much-maligned Fernando Torres in Paris, a move that ultimately did not pay dividends.

Despite the Spaniard giving putting in yet another mediocre cameo, we personally think that Mourinho will opt for him to start over Schurrle with the Portuguese also resisting the temptation to shuffle his lineup too radically in light of the importance of a win to their chances of domestic success.

Predicted Chelsea XI to face Stoke:

Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Matic, Ramires; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Torres.

Agree or disagree? How do you think Chelsea will set-up on Saturday? Leave us your thoughts in the comment box provided below...

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Fernando Torres
Premier League
Stoke City

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