Chelsea continued their renaissance with a hard fought 2-1 victory over Norwich City in midweek and following the result, the Blues managed to move into the top half of the Premier League table for the first time in quite a while.
Now a place in the Europa League should be well within sights for Chelsea but there is a lot of work to be done yet and the Premier League champions have a host of tough encounters coming up within the next few weeks.
Up next for Chelsea is a clash against high flying Stoke City at Stamford Bridge and difficult as it may be, Guus Hiddink’s men simply have to claim a victory on the day if they are serious regarding their European aspirations.
Here is the strongest possible Chelsea lineup for the clash against Stoke City –
Thibaut Courtois would have been disappointed to concede at his near post against Norwich City but he did make a wonderful last grasp save to deny Russell Martin and the Belgian arguably saved two points for Chelsea with his contribution.
Stoke City possess some brilliant attacking players in their squad and Courtois will surely need to perform well in order to keep a clean sheet this weekend.
Kenedy made a huge impact by scoring after only 41 seconds after kick off against Norwich and apart from his goal; the Brazilian enjoyed a very fruitful game. As a result, the youngster looks certain to start this weekend as well, while Cesar Azpilicueta will be deployed on the right side of defence.
With John Terry and Kurt Zouma still out injured, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic will be continuing their partnership at the heart of the defence once again and the duo will have their hands full against the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic.
Nemanja Matic was handed a rare start by Hiddink against Norwich but it looks very likely that John Obi Mikel will be replacing the Serbian at the middle of the park against Stoke.
Cesc Fabregas will partner Mikel in central midfield while Oscar is expected to continue in the hole behind the lone striker. Bertrand Traore was a surprise starter in the game against Norwich and given the youngster’s promising performance, Hiddink will have no problems in keeping him in the lineup.
That said, Willian is available and will in all probability start while Eden Hazard should be able to shake off the knock he picked up against Norwich to be deployed on the left wing.
Diego Costa managed to grab the winning goal against Norwich and he is certainly flourishing under Hiddink. The Spaniard will surely start against Stoke as well and he will have to be at his best against a very physically imposing Potters’ backline.
Via – Lineup Builder