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3-4-3: Chelsea Predicted XI to Face Stoke
Chelsea’s final game of 2016 is at home to Stoke City on New Year’s Eve with the Blues already guaranteed to start 2017 on top of the Premier League.
Antonio Conte’s side have had more than 24 hours’ additional rest than Stoke City on a short week to give the league leaders an additional boost.
The Italian tactician can also welcome back top scorer Diego Costa and midfield rock N’Golo Kanté having both missed the 3-0 thrashing of Bournemouth on Boxing Day through suspension.
Here is the Chelsea team I think we’ll see taking on Stoke:
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
Chelsea’s defence are on an incredible run of 10 clean sheets in their previous 12 matches and Thibaut Courtois has made a handful of top drawer saves during this time.
Defence: César Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill
John Terry is Chelsea’s only absentee from this match. Kurt Zouma is back in the frame but I cannot see Conte switching the back three around given the number of clean sheets they have stacked up since moving to this formation. César Azpilicueta has arguably been the best centre-back in the Premier League so far this season.
Midfield: Victor Moses, N’Golo Kanté, Nemanja Matić, Marcos Alonso
N’Golo Kanté is back to partner Nemanja Matić in front of the back three. I am short of superlatives to describe this duo over the past couple of months, but not only do they protect their defence immaculately they also offer support in attack. Victor Moses has been unselfish down the right whilst Marcos Alonso puts in some teasing crosses from the left. Stoke don’t have too much in the way of natural wide players to really harm this pair.
Attack: Willian, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard
A nicely-timed suspension allowed Diego Costa to spend Christmas away from football and will be fresh to face a Stoke City defence whom shipped four goals last time out. The Spanird will fancy his chances up against Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi. On top of that, look for Eden Hazard to raise havoc against Glen Johnson. On the right, Willian had been in better form than Pedro prior to the Spaniard’s brace versus Bournemouth, but I think the Brazilian will maintain his place.
Here is the Chelsea team on paper: