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Table-toppers Chelsea travel to the Britannia stadium on Saturday to continue their splendid run of form this season. The Blues currently have a 10 point gap at the top of the table and will be hoping to ensure that the lead is not lessened when they take on Mark Hughes’ men.
After overcoming Manchester United in their quarter-finals of the FA Cup tie, Antonio Conte’s men will be flying high with confidence. There are no injury worries and hence the Italian manager has a strong bench along with a fully-fit first team squad.
David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta have formed a formidable partnership at the back as the three men in defence while the midfield may be rotated to include Spanish duo of Pedro and Fabregas as they could make way for Willian and Matic, who started against United on Monday. In the attack, Diego Costa should lead the line for Chelsea as they would expect their hit-man to cause some problems to Stoke in front of the goal.
For Stoke, Glen Johnson, Biram Diouf and Marko Arnautovic are a big doubt for the game as they are recovering from their respective injuries.
The Belgian has been a stand-out keeper for the Blues this season, he also denied Rashford an equaliser against United by making a fine stop. A definite starter in goal for Chelsea.
He is relishing his role as the third centre-back. Solid in defence and is quick to cover ground as well.
He has looked a different player since his return to Chelsea and has been instrumental in his side’s title challenge. Holds the defence together and is also assertive in his tackles.
Another solid defender who has impressed tremendously. He has grown in stature and has been as strong as a rock in the heart of the Chelsea back-line. He is a huge threat in the air gives the Blues a big advantage.
The Spanish wing-back has flourished under Conte and has commanded the left side. He is a definite starter.
He was the star against Manchester United and has been a massive player for Chelsea with his energy and tackles in midfield.
He is capable of single-handedly changing the complexion of the game because of his passing and creativity. He should probably get the nod ahead of Matic for this encounter.
Has gone about his work well on the right-hand side of the Chelsea set-up and has been one of Conte’s most adored players.
The Belgian can be one of the most dangerous players in the world on his day weaving his way past the tightest of defences. A great asset to have in any team and Chelsea are certainly lucky to have him at their disposal.
Has shown the world he can still reproduce his performances during his Barcelona days and has flourished under Conte. His performances have been key in certain games to break the deadlock. Was given a break against United but is bound to replace Willian at the weekend.
Chelsea’s top goalscorer will be looking forward to a physical battle with Shawcross. He has been exceptional at finishing his opportunities on most occasions.