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Costa and Kante back to face Stoke as Chelsea hopes to make it 13 wins in a row

By Michael Abayateye
Diego Costa and N'golo Kante

Chelsea are on their best-ever winning run in the league and six points clear at the top of the Premier League after their latest 3-0 victory over Bournemouth, leaving Stoke with a difficult task as they travel to Stamford Bridge on New Year's Eve.

The Potters have yet to register a win in a busy December fixture list and will be huge underdogs as they face Antonio Conte's in-form side on Saturday. Mark Hughes watched his side get beaten 4-1 by Liverpool on Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, Chelsea have now won 12 in a row, with 14 the number needed to match the all-time record in top flight English football, which was set by Arsenal in 2002. 

Conte has an almost full squad at his disposal ahead of the game, barring a couple of long-term injuries and suspensions to contend with. 

John Terry hinted that he is close to a return on a recent appearance on UK television show Soccer AM, but he is not expected to be fit to face Stoke City at Stamford Bridge. 

Kurt Zouma and Ruben Loftus-Cheek returned to the bench two weeks ago following their injury problems. Centre-back Zouma has not played since February 7 due to serious knee trouble.

Diego Costa and N'Golo Kante will return from their respective one-match suspensions after they missed Chelsea's 3-0 win over Bournemouth on Monday. 

However, Pedro is banned after picking up his fifth booking of the season against the Cherries for a foul on Harry Arter.

Nemanja Matic and David Luiz are one booking away from a suspension, which would rule them out of their side's tricky away tie against Tottenham in the new year. 

Conte has made very few changes during the 12-game winning run, although Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas have been rotated in and out of games in recent weeks.

Willian has been used regularly throughout December after a period out of the team and Costa will likely be introduced to replace Pedro, who is suspended. 

Conte tends to prefer continuity in his team selection, but may rotate players who are tired out of the team. The Italian will likely stick with the 3-4-3 formation that has helped his side turn their season around.

Marko Arnautovic remains suspended after a reckless challenge in his side's game against Southampton on Sofiane Boufal. Stephen Ireland remains out until February with a broken leg. 

Geoff Cameron and Phil Bardsley are out with knee injuries while Marc Muniesa remains in with a chance to help boost Mark Hughes's limited options in defence. Stoke's number one goalkeeper Jack Butland is a long-term absentee with an ankle injury. Goal.com

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