Chelsea will have a great opportunity to increase their lead at the top this weekend as they are welcoming Hull City to Stamford Bridge. Although the Tigers have improved in recent matches under Marco Silva, Chelsea have to be considered huge favourites. In the earlier meeting between the two sides this season, the Blues took the three points with Willian and Diego Costa scoring the goals on that occasion. They managed to bounce back from their defeat against Tottenham and another victory this weekend could spark another long winning streak.
The Blues have been exceptional this season and they have dealt with the Diego Costa saga in a professional manner. It is difficult to know exactly what has gone on behind the scenes and there is a chance that he will return to the team this weekend. He doesn’t look like he will remain at the club for the long term, but it would be a blow to lose him at this stage of the season, especially as they are the overwhelming favourites for the league title.
After some severe criticism from certain pundits, Hull City have won two of Marco Silva’s three matches in charge. The task of staying in the Premier League does still look to be a difficult one, but the managerial change has given them a better chance of doing so. Hull now need to bring in some new players to give Silva the best possible chance of meeting his main target. Jake Livermore could be on the way out of the club after a fee was agreed with West Brom, which only increases their need for new signings.
Chelsea have been in sensational form since they changed to a 3-4-3 formation. They have won 14 of their last 15 matches and they will feel confident that they will finish the season as Premier League champions. The defeat against Tottenham and the rumours about Diego Costa had created problems for Antonio Conte, but his side responded convincingly against Leicester City last weekend. It is difficult to make a case against them finishing the season at the top of the table.
The visitors have improved their standing in the league table after last weekend’s victory against Bournemouth, climbing to 18th. They are now only in the relegation zone on goal difference and a positive result this weekend could see them climb above Crystal Palace. The win against Bournemouth was their first since the beginning of November and it is crucial that it isn’t as long a wait for their next three points.
Diego Costa is likely to come back into the starting eleven this weekend after missing out against Leicester City. It will be a difficult decision for Antonio Conte as he decides which forward to drop, but the player that could make way is Willian. Pedro and Eden Hazard are the likely starters on either side of Costa.
Hull City don’t have a great deal of squad depth that is going to be diminished even further if Jake Livermore does leave to join West Brom. I can’t see Marco Silva making any change to the side that beat Bournemouth after an impressive win.
Chelsea Hull City
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Diego Costa could be in line for a return after being left out last weekend. That is their only selection issue for this weekend as the rest of the squad are fit and ready to take part against Hull City.
David Meyler, Shaun Maloney and Allan McGregor could all be set for a return to the match-day squad this weekend. Alex Bruce, Will Keane and Markus Henriksen are all on the long term injury list and won’t feature this weekend.
It is difficult to make a case for Hull City to win this one, despite their improvement under Marco Silva. Chelsea have been excellent this season and they should have more than enough to beat Hull with some comfort. It will be interesting to see if Diego Costa does make a return to the starting eleven and whether he is well received by the home support. Although I can’t see them getting anything from the game, a good performance will provide further belief that they can stay in the top flight.