The biggest injury worry for Chelsea heading into the game against Stoke City was the calf strain suffered by manager Antonio Conte over the Christmas period.
Chelsea don’t have many injury problems to worry about. However, in an unusual twist of events, the Italian manager picked up an injury during a training session with the team. This was one of the things he was asked about ahead of the Stoke City game, and Conte laughed it off.
“My injury is not important,” Conte said smilingly, according to the official club website.
“I have a big problem in the muscle and it is the fault of Carlo Cudicini and Steve Holland! I wanted to run with them and I paid for this because they run very strong. I am getting better. It happened before the Crystal Palace game and during that game I suffered a lot standing up, but now I am getting better.”
The Blues manager also gave a positive update on veteran John Terry, who has trained with the first team this past week according to Conte.
Chelsea welcome back striker Diego Costa and midfielder N’golo Kante, after both the players sat out their last game against Bournemouth due to suspension. However, they will be without Spanish attacker Pedro, who is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card against the Cherries in mid-week.
The Blues head into the game on the verge of breaking a Premier League record. They are on a 12-match winning streak, and victory against the Potters would help them equal the league record of successive wins in a single season.
Conte will not want to change the winning formula that has brought such success, and his favoured starting XI is set to remain intact. The only change is likely to be the introduction of Brazilian winger Willian in place of the suspended Pedro.
Willian will partner with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard up front. They will look to use the services of the two in form wing-backs Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, as the central midfield duo of Nemanja Matic and N’golo Kante shield the defence.
The three man defence of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta will start ahead of Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.