Chelsea will look to strengthen their grip on the Premier League title race when they host Hull City on Saturday afternoon. The Premier League leaders 23-match unbeaten run was brought to an abrupt end by Newcastle last weekend and they are now just three points clear of second-place Manchester City.
They wasted little time in getting back to winning ways as they concluded their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 3-1 victory over Sporting Lisbon. Jose Mourinho’s men will be seeded for Monday’s last-16 draw, and the Portuguese was quick to remind everybody how strong a position Chelsea are also in domestically despite their Tyneside setback.
With the ‘Invincible’ talk over and done with, Jose Mourinho will be looking to extend Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League after Manchester City cut it to three points last weekend. Chelsea will be eager to reaffirm their league dominance, and bounce back from last weekend’s unexpected defeat. Jose Mourinho’s side will also be well aware that Manchester City will draw level with them on points, if they beat Leicester City.
Their opponents Hull have picked up just four points from a possible 24, and have never beaten Chelsea in the Premier League.
Mourinho would have struggled to ask for a better opponent to return to form, with the pressure on Hull manager Steve Bruce having seen his side score just twice in the last six games.
Hull have not won a league match since they beat Crystal Palace at the KC Stadium on 4 October. Steve Bruce’s men have struggled to create and convert chances in recent weeks and managed just two goals in their last six matches. Hull slipped into the relegation zone last weekend, when they were held to a goalless draw at home to West Brom, and they are currently just one point from safety.
Since they beat Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final, the Tigers have won just two league games in 20. Fourteen points from a possible 60 is clear relegation form.
It was the eighth match in succession in which they have failed to win, and manager Steve Bruce admitted afterwards that he could sense a rare anxiety among the KC Stadium faithful come the final whistle.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says that Petr Cech will start for Chelsea tomorrow against Hull.
Playmaker Cesc Fabregas will serve a one-match suspension as Mourinho reverts to the majority of his first-choice line-up.
The metronomic Cesc Fabregas will be missing. It’ll be interesting to see if they’re as harmonious without the orchestrator who has provided 11 assists and started every league game so far.
Hull captain Curtis Davies could be handed a recall for the trip to Stamford Bridge. The centre-half has been dropped for the last two matches, but manager Bruce could revert to a back three, opening up a vacancy at the back. Gaston Ramirez has completed a three-game ban, but fellow loanee Hatem Ben Arfa is set to continue his exile from the squad.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramires, Oscar, Willian, Hazard, Diego Costa.
Hull City: McGregor; Elmohamady, Chester, Dawson, Rosenior; Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Quinn; Jelavic, Hernandez
Chelsea 3-0 Hull City
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