I'm not sure anything good can come of this game.
If we win, regardless of how or with which players, it won't change the emphasis and the attention placed on the Liverpool game this weekend. But if we lose, then the pressure mounts even more. Regardless of what actual truths may exist at Chelsea and in the minds of the players and the decision-makers of the board, all we see is the media circus. And their attendance figures are at an all-time high.
I suppose there's always a glimmer of hope as long as nobody makes any drastic decisions. You never know when the season will turn around, you never know what minor little event could prove the key catalyst. Maybe it'll be Jonny Walters with another own-goal brace. That was pretty funny that one time.
Date / Time: Tuesday, October 27, 2015, 19:45 GMT; 3:45pm EDT; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, England
Referee: Kevin Friend — Eight in a row unbeaten with Mr. Friend, including the last time we saw him in our 1-0 win over Crystal Palace that clinched the Premier League title last season. Overall, we've won just 7 of 13 under Friend, but have lost only twice, the last of which was the 3-2 Community Shield loss to Manchester City in 2012.
Forecast: Somewhat mild, probably rainy; practically summer in Stoke-on-Trent!
On TV: none (UK); beIN Sports (USA); none? (India); elsewhere
Online: BBC 5live extra (UK radio); Chelsea TV (radio); beIN Sports Connect (USA)
Stoke City team news: Mark Hughes becomes the second rival manager in just a few days to publicly back Jose Mourinho to turn things around at Chelsea, but ol'e Sparky is looking for a big win himself after the weekend's humiliating 2-0 home defeat to Watford. He even called this match a "perfect opportunity" to do so, and the fact that he could say that without a hint of sarcasm or without anyone looking at him like he just escaped from the asylum shows just how far we've fallen.
Stoke will welcome back club captain Ryan Shawcross, finally fit for the first time this season. Fellow defenders Marc Muniesa and Geoff Cameron will be out, as will ex-Barcelona hot prospect Bojan with a toe injury. Mame Biram Diouf is back with the club and could be available following compassionate leave; his mother was one of the victims of the tragic crush at Mina that occurred during the most recent Hajj.
Chelsea loanee Marco van Ginkel, as per the terms of his loan agreement, will sit this one out, while left back Erik Pieters is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Before the weekend's embarrassment, Stoke had won four in a row in all competitions. They sit one point above Chelsea in 14th in the Premier League table. (LOL! Sad.) So far in the League Cup, they've vanquished lower league opposition Luton Town and Fulham, both away from home.
Chelsea team news: Without the club holding an official press conference, we can only assume that the same four who missed our last two games will continue to be out (Courtois, Ivanovic) or doubtful (Pedro, Remy). Nemanja Matic will be serving his one-match suspension for the red card received on the weekend. Either way, seeing as how we lost again and this is just the League Cup, I'm certainly expecting a heavy dose of rotation and youth from Jose Mourinho.
Previously: The two teams have previously met in a League Cup final, way back in 1972. It remains Stoke's one and only major trophy. More recently (since the turn of the century), we've lost just once in 17 meetings with the Potters.