Antonio Conte's Chelsea side have been head and shoulders above the other 19 teams that make up the Premier League this year. So much so that the Italian has scooped three manager of the month awards in a row and became the first manager to ever achieve such a feat in the Premier League era. No other manager could manage it; Not Alex Ferguson, Not Arsene Wenger, not Jose Mourinho. Either Conte is really good or the chasing pack are really bad - we propose that the former is closer to the truth.
📸 Preparing for Hull at Cobham today...💪 pic.twitter.com/4JHW6xVwlA— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) 20 January 2017
Hull City have discarded two managers now with 21 games played in the season and are onto their third, Marco Silva. He has not managed as many games as Conte in the Premier League but as it stands, after one game, he has a 100% record with that victory coming against over-achievers Bournemouth. If the Portuguese manager can make it two for two, he might just be in contention for the January manager of the month.
Diego Costa will most likely return to the fold for Chelsea, which certainly counts as good news for the home side and bad news for the visitors. He has been in devastating form this season with 14 goals in 19 Premier League games and has returned to training with the London side after some recent drama at Stamford Bridge. He reportedly had a bust-up with his manager last week over an injury he was complaining about, followed by an offer from China that he wanted to know more about. Regardless, he looks set to return against Hull on Sunday in some capacity. Aside from that, Antoino Conte has a full complement of players to chose from.
On the other side of the coin, Hull City are beset with absences and injuries, but the new man in the dugout can, and most likely will, call upon the same eleven who beat Bournemouth last weekend. They will be without Dieumerci Mbokani and Ahmed Elmohamady who are representing DR Congo and Egypt respectively in the African Cup of Nations.
Depending on what happens in the other games, Chelsea have the chance to either maintain their seven point lead or extend it with a win. Hull are level on points with Crystal Palace with 16 apiece but sit below their rivals, in 18th position, due to their dire goal difference.
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso, Pedro, Willian, Hazard
Hull: Jakupovic, Maguire, Dawson, Davies, Diomande, Mason, Huddlestone, Clucas, Roberton, Snodgrass, Hernandez