Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Stoke out to halt runaway Chelsea

Stoke manager Tony Pulis believes he can learn the lessons of last season when his team attempt to halt the Chelsea juggernaut in the Potteries tomorrow.

Pulis admits a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge in January, after his side had led with less than two minutes to go, was one of his most “hurtful days in football”.

But it was Stoke's 2-0 reverse on home soil a year ago this month which Pulis feels he and his players can improve on.

He said: “We had a great home record last year and Chelsea were the only team who came to our place and won with a bit to spare.

“We didn't stop certain aspects of their game and got punished, which will so often be the case when you are playing one of the best teams in the world.

“Our aim will be to stay in the game for an hour and, if we can do that, I think we will have a great chance of getting something.”

Pulis rates Chelsea as the best team in the Premier League and has been highly impressed by their “irresistible” start to the campaign.

He added: “We've looked at videos of the games they've played this year and they have been fantastic.

“Everyone will admire what their players can do with the ball, but their work-rate off the ball is phenomenal.

“They have hit the ground running and, with Manchester United losing (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Carlos) Tevez and Arsenal losing a couple of players, I think they are the best.

“Chelsea haven't lost anybody and when you look at the players they have it is frightening.”

Chelsea have had 20 players on international duty this week, but Pulis does not believe that fact will make Stoke's task any easier.

He said: “They are 20 of the best players in the world and they will be ready.”

The arrival of Tuncay and Robert Huth from Middlesbrough has increased Stoke’s chances of another successful season.

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