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Di Matteo factor will motivate Chelsea to see off Stoke

| 07.03.2012

Despite being expected to overcome Championship Birmingham on Tuesday, Chelsea played with a vibrancy under Roberto Di Matteo that makes their 2/5 odds to beat Stoke at the weekend look generous.

In the first game since Andre Villas-Boas’ departure, Di Matteo selected similar personnel to those often utilised by his predecessor, but the same players seemed to relish some added liberty in their 2-0 win.

Di Matteo’s next challenge should prove tougher, as a physical Stoke side travels to Stamford Bridge, hoping to build on back-to-back league wins without conceding, and claim victory at 6/1.

Tony Pulis’ men will undoubtedly provide a stern test, but having scored only nine goals on the road all season, those who feel the Blues could struggle to break their visitors down may be more interested in the 3/1 about the draw, which has been the outcome in the past two meetings between the sides.

However, a fresh impetus should be evident in the home side’s play on Saturday, and it is difficult to see past Chelsea achieving a win that would be crucial to their bid for a top-four finish.

The occasion should not be underestimated at Stamford Bridge at the weekend also, as Di Matteo, who has legendary status with Chelsea fans, takes charge of his first game in front of his own supporters.

Chelsea’s more fluent display in their FA Cup tie at Birmingham seemed to show that the players are willing to fight for their new boss, and he will be determined to achieve a positive result to enhance his chances of landing the managerial role on a more permanent basis.

Of course, a bigger indication as to his future will be determined in the second leg of the Champions League fixture against Napoli, but achieving back-to-back domestic triumphs in an impressive manner would no doubt bolster Di Matteo’s credentials in the eyes of Roman Abramovich.



John Klee