- Science & Tech
Chelsea can take another step towards English football history when they host Stoke City on Saturday, as the Premier League’s jam-packed festive schedule rumbles into 2017.
Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Bournemouth on Boxing Day was their 12th in succession, leaving them two wins short of Arsenal’s overall top-flight record of 14, set over two seasons in 2002.
With each win, Antonio Conte’s side have looked more and more like champions-in-waiting, but with half the season still to go, Chelsea’s players are desperately trying to ignore the hype.
“It’s unbelievable because it’s very difficult to do that in the Premier League, but the team are very compact on the pitch and that’s the right way,” Spanish forward Pedro Rodriguez told the club website.
“Bournemouth are a good team and it was very difficult. Stoke are also a very good team, but we must take it game by game.”
Scorer of two goals against Bournemouth, Pedro will be suspended for the visit of Stoke, which should see top scorer Diego Costa — banned on Boxing Day — return to the starting XI.
Midfield lynchpin N’Golo Kante is also available again after suspension.
Stoke fell to a 4-1 defeat at Liverpool on Tuesday, having gone ahead through Jonathan Walters, and left-back Erik Pieters has urged his team-mates to show more belief against the leading sides.
“Sometimes we have a good 20 minutes, sometimes we have a good second half, but in patches we have been bad — we need to learn to control the game,” said the Dutchman, whose side are 13th in the table.
“It’s difficult because it has to come as a group. It’s a team sport. But I think we have shown we can do it in spells and we don’t have to be afraid of big teams.” Liverpool’s victory took them back to second place, six points below Chelsea, and they will stage the biggest game of the New Year weekend when third-place Manchester City visit Anfield on Saturday.
City trail Liverpool by a point, having won their last three matches, and manager Pep Guardiola was in attendance to watch Jurgen Klopp’s team overcome Stoke.