Stoke will head to Stamford Bridge on New Year’s Eve firmly believing they can be the ones to halt Chelsea’s remarkable winning streak, Potters boss Mark Hughes has stressed.
Hughes’ men face a Blues outfit who are six points clear at the top of the table after recording victories in each of their previous 12 Premier League games.
Stoke’s last outing saw them suffer a 4-1 loss at second-placed Liverpool on Tuesday.
But Hughes thinks there were definitely positive signs in terms of his side’s performance in that match, during which they went 1-0 up.
And he feels his players’ frustration at the eventual result – plus confidence from securing a 1-1 draw at Chelsea last season – will strengthen them for their daunting-looking assignment this weekend.
Regarding his old club Chelsea’s form, Hughes said: “The run they are on at the moment is absolutely outstanding, but that run will come to an end at some point.
“I don’t think anyone thinks that from now until the end of the season they will win every game.
“We’re going into it with the intention of stopping the run if we can – and why can’t it be us?
“We were disappointed with the margin of defeat in the end against Liverpool, but until their equaliser, I thought we caused them a real problem.
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“We went into it really positive, and we showed in that initial period that we can cause good teams problems.
“The key is to be able to do it for more than half an hour or so – so that is the intention and hope in terms of our improvement at the weekend.
“There was frustration from our point of view at how the game panned out on Tuesday, so we will use that frustration to help us in our performance at the weekend I’m sure.
“And we went there last year and got our first point at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League, which proves we have good talent in our team.”
Hughes admitted after the Liverpool match that his side had contributed to their own downfall after their bright start, not defending “correctly” and making individual errors at the back.
But he insists the focus on Saturday will not simply be defensive discipline.
“I think it is important that wherever you go, and certainly at top clubs, you are positive,” the Welshman said.
“Playing two banks of four, with everybody behind the ball, hoping just to get a breakaway and nick a win or draw – I’ve never done that.
“If you do that, more often than not, you get beaten anyway. I’d rather try to be positive and see where that takes us.”