As the busy Christmas schedule piles on Chelsea will be preparing for the arrival of Newcastle United in what will be their fifth game in a space of 14 days. Antonio Conte will be thankful he has most of his side on the positive end of the fitness test as he will have to once again rotate his team for the weekend match.
Chelsea were sluggish in their 1-0 win over an unimpressive Swansea City side and will be hoping Newcastle United’s bad form will work in their favour as they look to continue their unbeaten run since the humiliating defeat to AS Roma.
Chelsea have already qualified for the next round of the Champions League fixtures and it will mean that the midweek tie next up against Atletico Madrid will be inconsequential. It will allow them to play their first team stars for the Newcastle United match without having to worry about the Champions League fixture.
Chelsea are currently 11 points adrift of Manchester City and a sprint for the title already looks over. Instead, head coach Antonio Conte has asked his team to focus on overtaking the team sitting currently above them, Manchester United. Jose Mourinho’s side are three points ahead of the defending champions and will face a stern test this weekend when they visit The Emirates to face Arsenal.
Conte will know the significance of every win now with the race for top four already heating up. Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and surprise package Burnley are all within shooting distance of Chelsea and slipping up against weaker sides like Newcastle United is simply not an option for Conte.
Here is how he will look to set his team up for a match the Blues will be expected to win comfortably.
Thibaut Courtois will be expected in goal after playing one of the easiest games of his career against Swansea City on the weekend. The defensive three is expected to be without David Luiz who is still out with a knee injury.
Cesar Azpilicueta might make a return after being benched for the match against Swansea City. Antonio Rudiger will be expected to continue, this time on the left side of the defensive three with Andreas Christensen at the base of the defence again.
Marcos Alonso will prepare for what will be his umpteenth match this season as a left wing back with Victor Moses expected on the right side.
Danny Drinkwater along with Tiemoue Bakayoko can be expected at the base of the midfield with Cesc Fabregas up ahead of them.