Chelsea will start the Christmas programme with a trip to Stoke on Monday evening.

Still top of the table with a game in hand on Manchester City, Chelsea will look to celebrate Christmas Day as the league leaders.

For that to happen, The Blues must avoid being beaten by two goals or more at the Britannia.

With an additional three matches still to come by the end of New Years Day in ten days, Jose Mourinho must take advantage of the width of the squad.

Chelsea team news

There is a chance Thibaut Courtois will return to the starting XI against Stoke after nursing a small injury the last week or so.

The gaffer is unlikely to risk the Belgian goalkeeper, so if he starts he is back to 100 per cent fitness.

Also Didier Drogba and Kurt Zouma, both on the receiving end of injuries at Derby last week, are ready to return to the squad.

Topping the table on Christmas Day usually means the rest of the season will be a success for Chelsea.

Each of Chelsea’s three Premier League crowns have come after being top over Christmas, including Mourinho’s two titles nearly a decade ago.

Stoke are no pushovers though, as we learned last season. Andre Schurrle’s two goals were not enough and we lost 3-2 at the Britannia after a late winner by Oussama Assaidi.

Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself in that respect, and that the stronger-looking Chelsea will claim three points to celebrate Christmas in style.

Stoke team news

Bojan Krkic should be fit again after picking up a knock at Crystal Palace a week ago, while Marc Muniesa and Stephen Ireland also return to the squad.

Stoke are a different side than a few years ago, when winning aerial duels seemed more important than actually winning football matches.

Under Mark Hughes the Potters have seen vast improvement in that respect. The passing is more along the floor than we’ve ever seen from Stoke in the Premier League, and they are picking up points, too.

A win will see them climb to 10th in the league, level on points with Liverpool and they seem a tough team to beat on Monday evenings.

In fact, Stoke are yet to lose in their last six Premier League outings on a Monday night, so the challenge is there and not to be taken lightly.

We still believe the quality of our team will see us through, lead by an in-form Eden Hazard. 2-1 in our favour is our tip.

Chelsea Talk

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