Chelsea managed to scrap to victory against Norwich on Tuesday with 2 goals to one. The win has suddenly put some belief into the Chelsea fans who are now dreaming of a Europa League spot after a disastrous start to the campaign. Guus Hiddink has done a brilliant job of motivating the boys in blue and remains undefeated in the league since the turn of the year. On Saturday Chelsea welcome Stoke City to London, hoping to mount a challenge for the European spot. The last time these two teams met, Chelsea ran out comfortable winners with the scoreline of 2-0.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
The big Belgian is always going to start, if not injured. He did exceptionally well on Tuesday to deny Russell Martin a goal and secured Chelsea all three points. He still not at the level when he joined Chelsea but seems to be getting in the grove.
Defenders: Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Gary Cahill and Kenedy
John Terry participation against Stoke is doubtful and with the game against PSG next week, the manager is unlikely to take a risk with his captain. Therefore Ivanovic will continue in central defence alongside Cahill. Ivanovic who started the season really slowly, has seen an upturn in the form since Hiddink took over and the Serbian was again at his brilliant best against Norwich.
Azpilicueta has been one of the most consistent Chelsea players this season. Whether he is on the right or left, he is assured of a starting place none the less. Kenedy replaced Rahman in the starting XI on Tuesday and promptly justified his place in the team with a quickest goal of the season against Norwich.
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel, Cesc Fabregas, Traore, Eden Hazard and Willian
Mikel was rested for the game against Norwich but his replacement Matic didn’t do anything exceptional which would force Hiddink to keep him in the team, therefore expect Mikel to return to the starting XI on Saturday. He will partner Cesc Fabregas in the central midfield, the Spanish midfielder has been brilliant under Hiddink, although he struggled a bit in the last match.
With Pedro still a doubt, Traore should keep his place in the team, especially after an encouraging display on Tuesday. Hazard appears to be on an upwards trajectory, after an energetic display against Norwich. Given his importance in the team, one should see him start on the wing for this one. Willian will be deployed in the attacking midfielder role. He was rested on Tuesday, but expect him to start against Stoke City.
Striker: Diego Costa
Another game and another goal for Diego Costa as he extends the good form under the care of Hiddink. If fit, there is very little chance of seeing him rested as Chelsea continue their march upwards.