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Chelsea are eyeing a record number of days at the league summit as they begin the business end of the season with a trip to Loftus Road without star striker Diego Costa who is out until May with a hamstring tear.
The Spanish striker’s hopes of making a quick return have been dashed after scans revealed a tear on his hamstring which also rules him out of the Arsenal game next weekend.
Jose Mourinho said the fixture against Crystal Palace on May 3 will be Costa’s most likely return date, with Loic Remy likely to get his much-awaited chance against his former side. John ObiMikel and Cesc Fabregas are fit again.
Let’s put ourselves in Jose Mourinho’s shoes and pick his team for the visit to Loftus Road.
Goalkeeper – Thibaut Courtois
Courtois has had an excellent season so far, but will be looking to make amends after coming off his goal to allow Charlie Adam to smash a long-ranger from inside his own half.
Defence – Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta.
The tried and tested backline that has been rock solid this season and needs no tinkering. Gary Cahill has come back to form after his Champions League struggles while the ever present John Terry is alongside him in central defence. Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta take their usual full-back positions.
Midfield – Matic, Ramires, Willian, Fabregas, Hazard.
Nemanja Matic has been Chelsea’s most vital player this season, shielding the backline and breaking up play to allow the likes of Cesc Fabregas to weave their magic further up the pitch. The energetic Ramires will slot in alongside Matic in midfield with Cesc Fabregas’ attacking talents being utilized in a No.10 role. Struggling Oscar should be benched for this crucial game.
Willian hasn’t troubled the scorers very often this season, but he has the pace and movement to cause all sorts of problems to defences. Eden Hazard has been in red-hot form this campaign and has been a constant menace for defences with his pace and dribbling ability. Loftus Road should be no exception.
Striker – Loic Remy
Remy scored the winner against Stoke City last weekend and would be itching to make a mark against his former employers.