Villas-Boas braced for stern Stoke debut

Updated: 13 August 2011 14:43 IST

Andre Villas-Boas will begin the daunting task of satisfying Chelsea's notoriously demanding owner Roman Abramovich when he takes his team to face Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.

Villas-Boas braced for stern Stoke debut
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Stoke:

Andre Villas-Boas will begin the daunting task of satisfying Chelsea's notoriously demanding owner Roman Abramovich when he takes his team to face Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.

Villas-Boas, 33, has been fast-tracked into one of the highest profile jobs in European football on the back of an outstanding season of success at FC Porto.

The Portuguese will be expected to succeed where predecessor Carlo Ancelotti failed last season - and deliver success to Stamford Bridge.

Ancelotti was sacked 12 months after leading the club to its first ever league and FA Cup double, a clear reminder to Villas-Boas - Chelsea's seventh manager in seven years - that mediocrity will not be tolerated at the club.

The task facing him is to close the gap on Manchester United in the Premier League and to that end a trip to Stoke is hardly the gentlest introduction for a manager anxious to find his feet in the division.

Villas-Boas worked at Chelsea under predecessor Jose Mourinho and has inevitably attracted comparisons with him - comparisons he rejects.

But he will have to oversee a similarly successful spell in charge to that enjoyed by the 'special one' if he is to remain in his position for the foreseeable future.

Villas-Boas said: "We'll do everything in our power to win the title back. We've had a good pre-season and everyone is feeling excited to be coming back to competitive games. Hopefully this first challenge is important."

Fernando Torres is fit after suffering concussion this week but defender David Luiz has been ruled out.

Striker Jon Walters has warned Chelsea to expect another bruising encounter at the Britannia Stadium, insisting the pressure is all on new manager Villas-Boas.

Walters has constantly defied the doubters since his arrival at Stoke last summer and his excellent goal against Chelsea last season was another reminder that at £2.75m he has been one of Tony Pulis's most shrewd signing.

Stoke are still yet to beat Chelsea since promotion to the Premier League but Walters is convinced the Potters can give Villas-Boas a harsh introduction to this unforgiving division.

He said: "The pressure is on them. They are trying to take the league from Manchester United, they have brought in a new manager and, with the players they have, they should be up there.

"But we gave them a good game when we played them here last time and we will be looking to do the same again.

"We were playing against the best players, but we saw we could stand up to them, put them on the back foot and put the pressure on.

"It was end to end, both sides hit the woodwork and either could have won it. We came off the pitch on a bit of a downer that we had only drawn.

"Sunday's match is another to look forward to and hopefully we can reproduce the same sort of game."

Rory Delap will face a late fitness test on a hamstring tweak, while new signing Matthew Upson is not yet match-fit. Ricardo Fuller (Achilles), Danny Higginbotham (knee) and Mamady Sidibe (Achilles) are long-term casualties.

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