Monday 22 December 2014 19:49, UK
In his weekly column, Jamie Carragher has his say on the main talking points surrounding Sky Sports' upcoming Monday Night Football clash between Premier League leaders Chelsea and Stoke City.
The former Liverpool and England defender discusses Chelsea’s chances of winning the quadruple, whether they have any weaknesses and if they will need to strengthen their squad in January.
Carragher also assesses how Stoke will approach the match and Bojan’s brilliant recent form.
Jose Mourinho said after Chelsea’s Capital One Cup win over Derby that he doesn’t think his side will win the quadruple this season. They still have a long way to go but do you think they could do it?
CARRA SAYS: I don’t think so, it will be very difficult. There was talk of them going unbeaten and that went and I would imagine sooner or later they will lose a game in a cup competition. That is normal for any team really.
They are the best side in the country and one of the top sides in Europe, but no team in England has ever won the quadruple. United did the treble in 1999 but I’m not sure winning all four will ever be done. It’s very difficult. I am sure Jose Mourinho would be happy if he got a couple of trophies this season.
Do you think the players will be thinking about it at all? What stage of the season would it come into their minds?
CARRA SAYS: You would have to pick the first one up really, maybe February or March and the Capital One Cup, and then see if you are still in a decent place in the league, the Champions League and FA Cup. In terms of cup competitions, you can lose at any time, you can lose in the final, but you have to win the first one and see how you are going in the others.
It’s obvious they want to get that first one, you could see that by the team they put out at Derby - it was a very strong side - so it’s clear he wants to win that trophy.
What do you think their weaknesses are? Do they have any?
CARRA SAYS: I don’t think there are weaknesses in the first XI but the problem will be if they lose a main player for a length of time. No team can cover that - if Ronaldo was missing for Real Madrid they couldn’t, and it would be the same with Chelsea if Diego Costa was out for any length of time, even though they have Drogba and Remy.
It’s ok missing the odd game but if anyone is out for any length of time like Matic, Fabregas, Costa or Hazard - a player from the spine of the team - it would affect Chelsea. It has an impact on any team if your best players are out, you need that luck.
I don’t think they will make any signings in January, though, because I don’t think they are particularly short anywhere. Maybe next season they will be looking to bring in another stiker because Drogba will be a year older and maybe to cover for Costa, but I don’t think they are short.
Just the slight area is up front if Costa has a long lay-off they may need to improve there in the summer, but not right now. Drogba has got a few goals and is still a very good player.
In their last match at the Britannia Stoke were excellent as they beat Arsenal 3-2. How do you think they will approach this game?
CARRA SAYS: I don’t think they will change anything for Chelsea, they have a way of playing at home and have done for a few years under Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes. They have done things slightly differently but you still expect the same things when you go to Stoke, you expect to be put under pressure.
Chelsea lost 3-2 there last year, so it’s a difficult place for everyone to go, it always has been and it has a reputation now. Teams go there expecting tough game and a battle and that’s what they normally get.
How impressed have you been with the job Mark Hughes has done at Stoke?
CARRA SAYS: Tony Pulis got them into a cup final and into Europe, so he did a brilliant job. Every manager has his own way of doing things, there is no right or wrong. Mark Hughes has done a very good job, he had their highest-placed finish in the Premier League last year and he will be trying to at least match that this season.
They haven’t made the greatest of starts but it was the same last season, they finished really strongly and Stoke don’t have problems of relegation. They will be looking to get into the top 10.
One of their standout players recently has been Bojan, who joined from Barcelona in the summer. How impressed have you been with his performances lately?
CARRA SAYS: He has looked really good. I remember that goal he got at Tottenham, it was a really good goal and he was very unfortunate not to get a goal at Anfield as well, he hit the woodwork and was denied by a great save from Mignolet at the end.
His performance against Arsenal was outstanding as well. He has had a big reputation for a long time and hasn’t really taken off as a player but he has come to the Premier League and after a few months he is proving to be a good signing for Stoke.
Watch Stoke City v Chelsea live on Monday Night Football, with coverage from the Britannia starting at 7pm on Sky Sports 1HD.