Hazard could start, Stoke in centre back crisis

Doug Mendoza
September 24, 2017

Chelsea forward Pedro will return to Antonio Conte's squad for the trip to Stoke on Saturday while Tiemoue Bakayoko is available despite being involved in a vehicle accident on Thursday.

It promises to be a hard game for the champions, and Conte may hope they gain an extra edge by getting ready at Stamford Bridge, rather than their regular Cobham base.

This season it's very important to play because after a really bad injury, it's not simple - he broke his leg in a bad way.

Ake was sold in the summer but the Blues put their faith in the returning Andreas Christensen and made a decision to send Kurt Zouma out on loan to play some regular football.

The Belgium international's availability comes at an ideal time as Chelsea face a huge trio of fixtures over a one-week span, with an away Champions league game against Atletico Madrid and a home Premier League clash with title rivals Manchester City following their trip to the bet365 Stadium.

For Stoke boss Mark Hughes, the concerns are two-fold ahead of Saturday's game.

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While on-loan Kurt Zouma is ineligible to face his parent club, Ryan Shawcross (back) and Geoff Cameron (hamstring) remain sidelined, and Kevin Wimmer is a doubt due to a hamstring problem of his own. Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, then against Manchester City in the league.

Chelsea's last top-flight outing ended in a frustrating 0-0 draw against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. We will have to have a look and see how he is today.

Stoke midfielder Darren Fletcher said: "We've got to learn from it quickly because we've got big games coming up". Going up against a top side like Chelsea, you've got to be bang at it. "A good test and challenge for us". "Beat Arsenal, drew with Manchester United and we've got to get back to that level of performance to do anything against Chelsea".

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