Bridge Banter: Chelsea need to bounce back with win against Stoke

Wimbledon Guardian: Chelsea's John Terry glances a header past Petr Cech for the own goal that gave Crystal Palace a much needed 1-0 win Chelsea's John Terry glances a header past Petr Cech for the own goal that gave Crystal Palace a much needed 1-0 win

The Blues have the chance to leapfrog Liverpool and return to the top of the Premier League this weekend as they face Stoke at Stamford Bridge.

The Scousers don’t play until Sunday, so Chelsea could reboot their title challenge after hitting a dreadful run of form.

Of their last seven away games in all competitions, Chelsea have won one, drawn two and lost four.

Wednesday night’s defeat in France has left Jose Mourinho’s once-merry men with a mountain to climb on Tuesday’s second leg of the Champions League tie against Paris St-Germain.

At 2-1 down, it all looked poised for a tight, winnable return.

But a third goal for PSG in injury time put a different complexion on the second leg and, while Chelsea will come out all guns blazing, it’s now a tall order to progress to the semis.

What’s concerning is the Blues’ inconsistency. It’s not a problem that has often affected The Special One. But these are not ordinary times.

Chelsea’s 1-0 league defeat at Crystal Palace was a shock after the 6-0 demolition of Arsenal the previous week.

Unlike Arsenal, Palace hassled and harried the Blues every step of the way, and deserved their win… for persistence alone.

For once, Mourinho’s tactics were wayward. In a bid to get his players used to a style he was toying with against PSG, he played a 4-3-3 formation at Selhurst Park, with Fernando Torres, Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle leading the line. It didn’t work.

In Paris he tried pushing Schurrle to the front, with Oscar, Hazard and Willian in close supporting roles, but it all left Chelsea looking vulnerable in other areas.

Jose will do his best to refocus minds on Stoke, who will fancy getting something from Saturday’s late kick-off game, but attention is bound to wander to Tuesday, when the Blues have nothing to lose and can either implode spectacularly, or perform a miracle.

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