Injury-hit Stoke set to field youth players against Chelsea

  • Injury-hit Stoke set to field youth players against Chelsea

Injury-hit Stoke set to field youth players against Chelsea

Chelsea are undefeated in their last 12 matches but they're still only competing for a top four spot with Manchester City recording such a strong lead at the top of the Premier League table.

The champions head into Saturday's game with Stoke City 16 points behind league leaders Manchester City, who have left the rest of the division trailing in their wake with their sensational form this term.

The Blues are still in the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and face Barcelona in the UCL last 16. Chelsea also boast a four-point advantage over Liverpool, the club directly below them, and Blues boss Conte is looking to maintain that advantage heading into 2018.

But the Italian insisted last season's champions are still motivated.

Cesar Azpilicueta has assisted Alvaro Morata for six Premier League goals this season, the joint-most for one Chelsea player to another in a single campaign (level with Cesc Fabregas to Diego Costa in 2014-15, and Frank Lampard to Didier Drogba in 2009-10). The Potters did collect four points in their last two fixtures, with a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion followed by a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town.

"I don't know if we can do this for the title because it depends on Manchester City, who are doing something extraordinary".

"We've been giving up too many chances and goals and giving ourselves too much to do in games, but we are picking up points and that's the main thing". We must pay great attention. We have some decent games coming up, notwithstanding Chelsea, and we feel we'll be okay in the new year once we get everyone back. That means you're having a fantastic run.

"I'm a coach, I have to work with my players and my task is on the pitch".

Jese enjoyed an explosive start to his career in England, scoring the victor over Arsenal, but he has only started seven Premier League matches in total and been left out of the last five squads. "And then to prepare for the final rush".

Referee: Kevin Friend - Kevin not my friend is back for a second time this season (and this month) after Chelsea's 3-1 win over Newcastle at the start of December. A bad, bad injury. For sure, about the human aspect, I'd like to give him an opportunity. He is showing great patience because he's struggled a lot but, honestly, I don't know what will happen with Baba.

The striker has not featured since November 29 due to the ill health of his baby son but Hughes is ready to call on him for the second half of the season.