Chelsea play their second match of their week, 48 hours before their third match in six days, against West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day.
Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho is currently sweating on the fitness of Eden Hazard, who limped off injured in the final minutes of Monday night’s 2-0 victory over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
The Belgium international appeared to injure his ankle, but should be fit to take his place in the starting line-up against the Hammers, who currently sit fourth in the Premier League table.
Few changes expected
Because Chelsea only played on Monday, and are in action again on Saturday away at Southampton - not an easy fixture by any stretch of the imagination - it’s possible that Mourinho will make a couple of changes for the match against West Ham.
But Sam Allardyce’s side are going great guns in the Premier League this season and will certainly be no push-overs. This is not a match where Mourinho will be afforded the luxury of resting his best players.
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As a result, it’s safe to assume that Hazard will be joined out on the pitch on Boxing Day alongside Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Nemanja Matic, John Terry and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
One potential change could be at full-back, with Brazil international Felipe Luis ready to step in for Cesar Azpilicueta, who could replace Branislav Ivanovic at right-back depending on who Mourinho believes is more in need of a rest.
Oscar and Schurrle in
Meanwhile, Oscar should return to the starting line-up, which should mean Fabregas dropping back into central midfield and taking the place of John Obi Mikel.
And Willian could be handed a rest, with World Cup winner Andre Schurrle more than capable of making an impact as Chelsea’s attacking right winger.
The Blues were left frustrated the last time West Ham visited Stamford Bridge, back in January, when a frustrated Mourinho hit out at Allardyce’s “19th Century” football.
This prompted an amusing response from the Hammers’ boss, who was asked if he minded upsetting the revered Portuguese coach.
“I don't give a s***e, to be honest,” Allardyce responded. “I love to see Chelsea players moaning at the referee, trying to intimidate him, Jose jumping up and down in his technical area. It's great to see.”
This time, however, expect Mourinho and Chelsea to have the last laugh.
Chelsea: Predicted line-up v West Ham
Courtois; Luis, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Matic, Fabregas; Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle; Costa
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