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Predicted Chelsea lineup against Sunderland: Full steam ahead for win no.30

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Chelsea v Watford - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The party has been going on for over a week, and it won’t stop for at least a few more days, but thanks to the timing of fixtures, Chelsea cannot relax just yet. We can enjoy, but we cannot relax. There are targets to hit. And if that sounds like something Antonio Conte would say, well...

“But I hate this word ‘relaxed’. I prefer they use the word ‘enjoy’ instead. Enjoy your achievement. [...] First we will focus on finishing the league and achieving our targets.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Guardian

The targets that are left to hit include setting a new Premier League record for wins with 30 (beating our own marks from 2005 and 2006 of 29), ensuring that Thibaut Courtois has the Golden Gloves outright (though Lloris is doubtful for Spurs and Courtois was assured of at least a share of the award for most clean sheets), and letting César Azpilicueta complete his ironman achievement of playing every single minute of the Premier League campaign.

And then of course there’s the target of the FA Cup final, which follows Saturday next. Having rotated the squad for Monday’s match, if Conte keeps the usual starters out again, they will have gone two weeks without playing. Chances are, we’d rather keep them match fit and in rhythm. Playing them does raise the possibility of injury, but that’s just the calculated risk we’ll have to take.

In short, I’d expect the usual starting eleven — there are no injury issues — and an extended substitute appearance for John Terry in his final match at Stamford Bridge.

3-4-3:
Courtois | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Matić, Kanté, Moses | Hazard, Costa, Pedro

Somewhat more relaxed thinking from the community at large, with Terry and Ake (and Kanté and Hazard) retaining their places from Monday.

3-4-3 (88%):
Courtois (73%) | Aké (59%), Terry (63%), Azpilicueta (76%) | Alonso (64%), Fàbregas (70%), Kanté (64%), Moses (64%) | Hazard (58%), Costa (53%), Pedro (54%)