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CFC

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Chelsea defender Gary Cahill scored a late goal which means that the Blues are now 13 points clear at the top of the table, with Tottenham and Manchester City both playing tomorrow.

The defender said after the game: “The manager told us to keep playing our football and wins are all that matter at this stage. We only had two Premier League games in this month”.

Chelsea won even their last game at Olympic Stadium against West Ham United, who lost against Leicester today.

Cahill added: “We managed to get the results and now we can sit back and watch tomorrow’s games. There will be pressure. I have played in that situation where a team has won and you have to go out and get a result.”

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Chelsea are 13 points clear at the top of Premier League table after beating Stoke City in a narrow and tough game at Britannia Stadium.

Antonio Conte’s side got the lead thanks to Willian‘s cheeky free-kick after only 13’, but Potters bounced back leveling the game from a penalty, after Cahill shoved Walters who scored from the spot.

Chelsea dominated the whole second half despite Mark Hughes‘ men produced some counter-attacks piling pressure on. Marcos Alonso hit the crossbar from a free-kick, while Stoke City’s goalkeeper Grant saved his side in several chances. 

Then Blues’ captain Gary Cahill scored from a corner with only 5′ left to go: David Luiz tried to score first but Erik Pieters’ clearance fell straight to Cahill, who did not miss the chance.

Both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Diego Costa went close to scoring before Stoke City’s defender Phil Bardsley was shown a red card for a late tackle on Fabregas, who came off the bench for Victor Moses as Antonio Conte switched from a 3-4-2-1 system to a 4-3-3 formation.

Chelsea are now ever closer to the Premier League title.

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STOKE CITY – Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, M. Indi, Pieters; Ramadan, Cameron, Allen, Arnautovic; Walters, Berahino

Subs: Given; Muniesa, Whelan, Afellay, Adam, Diouf, Crouch

Manager: Mark Hughes

 

CHELSEA – Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Willian, Diego Costa, Pedro.

Subs: Begovic, Zouma, Ake, Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Batshuayi

Manager: Antonio Conte

 

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CHELSEA

– Eden Hazard is ruled out of the clash for leg injury

– Victor Moses is available despite leaving the pitch for a minor injury with Manchester United

– Another un-named player was a doubt for the game

– Cesc Fabregas could start due to Hazard’s absence

– Chelsea have only won two of their last seven games away to Stoke in all competitions.

 

STOKE CITY

– Stoke defender Glen Johnson is absent with a shoulder problem

– Marko Arnautovic should return after missing out in midweek because of illness.

– Xherdan Shaqiri is back after a six-match absence

– Wilfried Bony, who was ineligible against Manchester City, is available.

– However, the Potters have managed just two victories in 17 Premier League meetings (D3, L12).

 

Possible Line Ups

STOKE CITY – Grant; Bardley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Diouf, Cameron, Allen, Shaqiri; Arnautovic, Bony.

CHELSEA – Courtois; David Luiz, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Willian, Diego Costa, Fabregas.

 

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Venue: Bet365 Stadium

Kick Off: 3 pm GMT

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Gary Cahill is back to his top form this year © Francesca Ceciarini

Gary Cahill is leading Chelsea on the pitch this season, wearing captain armband.

The English defender is back to top form under Antonio Conte and his new tactical system and spoke before the clash with Stoke City:

“We played Stoke at home and beat them when Peter Crouch played, and he always proves difficult to play against,’ the centre-back said about the Blues next rivals to Chelsea official website.

“Naturally his size proves difficult in and around the box, but also I’ve trained with him for England many times and as everyone knows through his career he’s a great finisher and he’s got great feet for a big man.

Mark Hughes has done a great job there and I think they do go direct when they need to, but they’ve also got good technicians where he wants to play as well. It’s a tough place to go, everyone in the league knows Stoke is a very difficult place to go and get three points.

But the confidence and momentum we have going into this game means we should be concentrating on us and the work we have been doing to get us to this point. We need keep doing the same things.”

Continuing to speak about the Potters, he said:

“Everyone’s quick to say this might be their weakness or that might be their weakness. Height is dangerous in the box, of course it is, pace is dangerous, everything’s dangerous. You’ve just got to go out and do the best you can and we’ve managed to do that this season.

“Whether the opposition go with a big man up front or they don’t, the way we approach the game and the way we want to play is what we should be concentrating on. Obviously we’ve spoken about the threats they’ve got, but we’re playing well, we’re in a good moment, so we’ll continue and focus on what we’re doing.”

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Speaking before Stoke City clash Antonio Conte stressed again the importance of a player and a professional like Cesc Fabregas, who is becoming a key-part of this Chelsea success:

“Cesc is showing he has a great impact for us. I hope to finish the season in the right way and to try to win [trophies],” the Italian manager said to the press.

“But for sure Cesc has shown himself to be a great professional but, above all, a great player.

“I’m very pleased to see that in him, his commitment and work-rate. This season he faced a new situation.

The Chelsea boss continued:

“In the past, Cesc has always played every single game. It’s not easy to change.

“But, for sure, Cesc showed me that he is not only a great player but a great person.

“I think, this season, he has improved a lot in all aspects and, for me, he is a really, really important player.”

With Eden Hazard’s absence against the Potters, it’s likely for Fabregas to start again this afternoon.

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Eden Hazard © Francesca Ceciarini

A major blow for Chelsea ahead of Stoke City clash: Blues star Eden Hazard didn’t travelled to Northern England with the team last night.

The Belgian is suffering a muscle leg injury and this issue will also stop him to join his national team for the international games scheduled for next week.

Antonio Conte admitted in yesterday’s press conference that he had a couple of injury concerns to value and today we got the confirmation that Hazard was ruled out of this crucial game for Chelsea title campaign.

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes every young player should be proud ‘to stay in the squad of a great team’ despite not playing every game as a starter.

About how to keep all of them concentrated despite not playing every week, Conte claimed: “I think that, for the young players, to stay in the squad of a great team is already a great motivation. And, every day, I demand and I want to see great motivation from the young players”.

“To stay in a great squad like Chelsea is a fantastic opportunity every day, to show me they are improving. – Conte added – Then, when there is the possibility to play – don’t forget they have played a lot of games in the League Cup, the FA Cup and the Premier League – that step is very important”.

“We want to try and win. We want to try and get into the next round. For this reason, I try to make the best decisions for the team to try and win and get into the semi-finals. It happened and I think we are very happy.”

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, speaking at press conference today, was firstly asked about injury concerns, since Victor Moses left the pitch with some physical issues against Man United on Monday night.

“Victor Moses, today, trained well – the Italian manager pointed out – I think he’s available but, for the game against Stoke City”.

Moreover, he added: “It’s important to check a couple of situations and then make the best decisions tomorrow. I’d prefer to keep those to me. Excuse me, but there it is”.

Moses knows the atmosphere of Britannia Stadium as he spent a mid-season on loan playing with Stoke City in 2014, before returning to Chelsea.

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, speaking at press conference ahead of Stoke City clash today, had his own say about Chelsea star N’Golo Kante:

“N’Golo…we have spoken a lot about him. – the Blues manager said – About his characteristics. He’s a fantastic player, a great player, a player who can cover a lot of ground and who wins the ball”.

“But he is a young player who can improve a lot. We are trying to improve him in the situation we are in, but he is incredible and he always has this smile on his face. That is all.”

 

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