Chelsea v Stoke preview: John Terry not ready for return
By Simeon Gholam
Last Updated: 05/03/16 3:02pm
John Terry is not ready to return to first-team action in time for Chelsea's clash with Stoke at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Blues' skipper hasn't trained with the first-team this week and will have to prove his fitness ahead of next week's Champions League return leg against Paris Saint-Germain.
Saturday presents an ideal opportunity for Guus Hiddink to continue his unbeaten start as Chelsea boss in the Premier League, and they could register a fourth straight win.
The remarkable turnaround means that Blues fans are starting to dream of a top four finish, with the gap between them and Manchester City in fourth just eight points.
Stoke are in a good run of form, having also won their last three, but do not have a good record at Stamford Bridge, and have won just one of their last 14 trips to London.
Hiddink confirmed Diego Costa would start against the Potters after previously suggesting the striker might be rested, while Kenedy's groin problem will be assessed.
Alexandre Pato could make his Chelsea debut, but it is likely to be off the bench, while Falcao (thigh) Kurt Zouma (knee) and Pedro (hamstring) are all out.
Phil Bardsley has added to Stoke's defensive problems ahead of Saturday. The right-back is facing a spell on the sidelines with a pulled calf sustained in Wednesday's win against Newcastle, while fellow defender Geoff Cameron is a doubt due to ankle pain.
Ryan Shawcross (back) is not yet ready to make his comeback, while Charlie Adam (calf), Shay Given, Glen Johnson and Marc Wilson (all knee) also remain sidelined.
Chelsea have won all seven Premier League matches against Stoke at Stamford Bridge, with the Potters scoring just two goals in that run.
Hiddink is unbeaten in his 11 Premier League games as Chelsea manager in this spell - no manager has gone 12 unbeaten at the start of a single spell as a manager at a Premier League club.
Mark Hughes has lost 30 and won none of his last 34 Premier League matches as a coach at Anfield, Emirates/Highbury, Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge combined.
Chelsea are six games unbeaten at home in the Premier League but have drawn four of those and kept no clean sheets in the last seven on home soil.
The Potters have won just one of their last 14 Premier League away trips to London (W1 D5 L8).
Chelsea have won three successive Premier League matches for the first time since April 2015 (also the last time that they won four in a row).
Diego Costa has scored or assisted 12 goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances (eight goals, four assists).
Chelsea are the only team in the Premier League not to concede any goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches in 2015-16 so far.
Chelsea are on their longest unbeaten run of the season in the league (12 games), which is also the second longest run of any team in 2015-16 (Spurs 14).
I am going to go for a Stoke win here, because Chelsea have a big week coming up - they have got PSG in the Champions League, then Everton in the FA Cup. So, given they surely can't get into the top four, they have got to rest players for the two bigger games, in my opinion.
Stoke could take advantage of that and I am going to go for a cheeky 2-1 Stoke win here, but ONLY because Chelsea have two big games coming up.
Chelsea are odds-on favourites (1/2) to follow up their midweek win at Norwich with another victory against Stoke. The Potters claimed a 1-0 verdict in the reverse fixture and are 6/1 to complete the double, with a repeat scoreline to Mark Hughes' men available at 16/1 in the correct score market. Costa is can be backed at 6/1 to score first, with Bojan and Jon Walters among four away players priced at 10/1 to strike first.