Chelsea would have felt the relief during the week after winning in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge. The pressure is still on them massively in the Premier League still as they are languishing in 15th place after 11 games.
They travel to Stoke today with three points being vital as they are already ten points behind fourth placed Man Utd. They are too good a side to remain in the position they are and I expect them to turnaround their form sooner rather than later.
Stoke haven't been in great form themselves and I expect Chelsea to get the better of them today. Willian will be key for them again as he has been the shining light this season and it was his excellent free kick that won them the match on Wednesday. Due to their poor form this season they are odds against to beat Stoke and I think their is some value in that and fully expect them to come away with the victory.
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Irving returns to the track today after a 200 plus day absence and I think he has a great chance of taking this against a field that is lacking any real quality. He was the likely winner when falling at the final hurdle in this race last year and although he six pounds higher today he will take all the beating. Last year's race was won by Purple Bay and there is nothing of that calibre in this race. Sam Twiston-Davies has chosen to rides the other Paul Nicholls runner All Yours which means Irving is ridden by usual jockey Nick Scholfield. He is the best horse in the race and definitely has the ability to defy top weight and take this.
Paul Nicholls has a great record in this race having won six of the last nine renewals. He runs Arpege D'alene today who is having his first start over fences. He beat the decent Tea For Two over two miles and three furlongs on soft ground, therefore todays conditions and distance should be perfect for him. He is receiving weight from a lot of his more experienced rivals here today and looks a potentially top prospect. As long as his jumping is good enough, he should have little trouble winning this.
Stoke v Chelsea - Chelsea win - 3 points @ 11/10 (Most firms)
Wincanton 15:15 Irving - 1 point @ 5/1 (Paddy Power)
Wincanton 13:30 Arpege D'alene - 2 points @ 6/4 (Paddy Power, Coral, Bet365)