After a relatively comfortable FA Cup tie against Manchester United, Chelsea will travel to the Bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City. Antonio Conte’s side were the favourites for the FA Cup tie against United, and unarguably so as they are at the summit of the table and above every other side in the domestic League. Their consistency has been remarkable this season and an important aspect of that has been the playing XI which has largely remained unchanged.
Stoke City have once again had a topsy-turvy season but will hope to trouble Chelsea who have dropped points in two of their last three away games. Stoke can close the gap on West Brom if results go their way and having kept two clean sheets on the trot, they will hope to conjure a positive result against the Blues.
Chelsea are sitting 10 points clear at the top of the table and put four past their opponents when the two met back in December. Conte might have to rotate for the upcoming game, though, as not everyone is certain for the clash. Here’s how the team could line up for the game.
Thibaut Courtois will start in goal. The Belgian has come up with crucial saves in some of the games. The three at the back system has done the trick for Conte since that ill-fated clash against Arsenal at the Emirates and we expect the trio of Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and David Luiz to once again line up at the back.
Victor Moses is a doubt for the clash and although Conte has the option of promoting Azpilicueta to a wing-back role, we presume he won’t be altering two positions due to one injury. So, Willian could get a wing-back role owing to his good work rate. Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kanté are likely to start in front of the defence and Marcos Alonso will play as the left wing-back.
Eden Hazard and Pedro Rodriguez are expected to play as the two wingers once again. While Hazard has scored 11, Pedro leads Chelsea’s assists charts with eight. Stoke’s full-backs will have a tough time with both the aforementioned wingers being pretty elusive when in full flow. And of course, we still haven’t mentioned Diego Costa who’s 17 goals have powered Chelsea to the top of the table. He’ll be a handful for the Stoke City centre-backs and if he can bring the wingers into play, the Potters could have a long 90 minutes.