After a damaging loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Chelsea will seek to resurrect their creaking title challenge in Premier League against Stoke City on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s side went down 3-1 at the Parc des Princes in the first leg of their quarterfinal on Wednesday and they have also conceded the initiative in the Premier League after two defeats in their last three games.
Last weekend’s shock 1-0 loss at Crystal Palace saw them knocked off the league summit by Liverpool, who they now trail by two points, while third-place Manchester City are two points behind with two games in hand.
Mourinho declared Chelsea’s title challenge over after their defeat at Selhurst Park, but with Liverpool not in action until Sunday, victory over Stoke would at least take the London club back to the top of the table.
Stoke, however, are in excellent form, having taken 13 points from a possible 15 to climb to 10th place, and manager Mark Hughes has challenged his players to maintain their momentum until the end of the campaign.
“Now we have put ourselves in a really strong position to achieve what we set out to do at the start of the year,” Hughes said on Thursday. “It is about making sure we capitalise on the position.”
Manchester: City striker Sergio Aguero will not be fit for the match with Southampton, but manager Manuel Pellegrini expects the Argentine to play some part in next week’s clash with Liverpool.
Aguero has scored 15 goals this season, but has not featured since hurting his hamstring against Barca in the Champions League.