Chelsea team to face Stoke: Drinkwater and Zappacosta given rare starts as Christensen returns

Stoke City's Welsh manager Mark Hughes (L) and Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte (R) gesture on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Chelsea at the Bet365 Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England on September 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Lindsey PARNABY / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte could well look to reshuffle his pack ahead of today’s game against Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.

Following on from Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion, the festive fixtures come thick and fast with the Blues travelling to Arsenal on January 3.

Given Conte may have one eye on the fixture at the Emirates as Arsene Wenger’s side bid to close the gap on the Premier League champions, he may rest some key names ahead of the team’s first game of 2018.

Stoke, who are currently languishing around the drop zone, travel to west London with a defensive injury crisis to deal with.

While Kurt Zouma can’t play given his loan spell from the Blues, Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi and Glen Johnson are also unavailable for Mark Hughes’ side.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Conte said that his team are fully focused on beating Stoke despite the Arsenal game on the horizon.

“I think that tomorrow we have a difficult game against Stoke,” said the manager.

“As you remember last season in the same period we suffered a lot and we did struggle to beat them at home.

“I remember the game really well. We must pay great attention. I think we have to go game by game.

“It’s normal when you play every three days, I have to make rotations and give rests to players that are playing every game.

“At the same time, all my players deserve credit and I trust all my players.”

Andreas Christensen, who missed Tuesday’s win through illness, should return at the back in place of Gary Cahill, while Davide Zappacosta should come in for Victor Moses at right wing-back.

The game also is a good chance for Danny Drinkwater to get some much-needed minutes under his belt and he comes in for Tiemoue Bakayoko to partner N’Golo Kante.

Cesc Fabregas is also rested ahead of his return to north London, with Pedro coming into the team to play alongside Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata in attack.

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