Chelsea host Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon as the Blues look to mount the pressure on Manchester United who sit one point above the Premier League champions.
A win for the Blues on Boxing Day meant they closed the gap to former boss Jose Mourinho and his side after Chelsea beat Brighton 2-0. It wasn’t the most convincing victory after a poor first half display, however quick to get out the blocks in the second half gave Chelsea all three points in West London.
Former Chelsea player Mark Hughes will bring his side to Stamford Bridge off the back of a score draw away to Huddersfield Town.
The last time Chelsea were beaten at home to the Potteries stretches back to 1995 in the League Cup when they came away 1-0 winners.
Antonio Conte confirmed Chelsea only have two absentees for Saturday’s home game. David Luiz and Charly Musonda are still recovering and won’t be risked, but the Italian has made them available for next weekend’s cup tie against Norwich where several changes are expected to be made.
Alvaro Morata and Cesar Azpilicueta will be looking to combine again this weekend as they look to break a club record.
Meanwhile, Mark Hughes has a more difficult task on his hands. Kurt Zouma is not only ruled out due to Chelsea being his parent club, but the Frenchman also picked up a recent injury.
Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi are suffering from calf and groin injuries respectively so will miss the trip to West London. Whilst former blue Glen Johnson is out with a knee injury.
It was an entertaining affair when the two last met at the Bridge however Stoke’s dismal away record this season could be their downfall this weekend. No win on the road since the end of October doesn’t bode well for Mark Hughes’ side.
Chelsea haven’t had a bad run of form in recent weeks and their Boxing Day win would have certainly lifted the spirits in the camp, particularly after the goalless draw to Everton just before Christmas.
They missed Alvaro Morata that day, and his qualities on Tuesday showed how much the Blues need him and after scoring his first Chelsea hat-trick in the reverse fixture this season, the Spaniard will certainly fancy his chances.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Stoke City