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Chelsea travel to Stoke in bid to edge ahead of City at the top

Jose Mourinho won’t settle with being top at Christmas, merely on goal difference. His Chelsea side are currently level with Manchester City on 39 points in the Premier League, and, in the Blues boss’s ideal world, the margin will be three in his favour by Christmas.

Chelsea are significant 8/13 odds-on favourites to beat the Potters, though Mourinho will be wary of Arsenal’s defeat at the Britannia not long ago. He will also remember the 3-2 loss his side sustained in the exact fixture last season, just over a year ago.

However, one thing they didn’t have last term, which they needed for matches like this, was a battering ram striker. Diego Costa was signed in the summer for this exact reason, and has 12 goals in the league so far. Known for his street-fighting style, he will give the home rearguard something to think about and will easily be able to cope with the physicality that Fernando Torres couldn’t.

He is 7/2 to hit the first goal, though having earned seven bookings as well, it could be the latter which occurs first. Mourinho vented his frustrations recently that Costa is being victimised by referees.

“Diego Costa is having an amazing season in terms of discipline and he has seven yellow cards,” Mourinho said.

“He’s being victimised? You have any doubts? Starting on day one when he was denied a penalty and given a yellow card at Burnley. He was booked for simulation – on day one.

“He has changed dramatically from the way he played in the past. I am frustrated, he is frustrated.”

It was Andre Schurrle who scored the goals in last season’s defeat, and the German is 7/4 to net anytime. He may have forced his way into his manager’s thinking once more, having dispatched in the club’s Capital One Cup quarter final defeat of Derby County in the Midlands last time out.

Brazilian left back and summer signing Filipe Luis may also be in contention, having struck a fantastic free-kick in that match, and is 16/1 to be target anytime again.

Since the highs of a victory over Arsenal, the Potters were then held to a draw by Crystal Palace, though Peter Crouch has now scored in consecutive matches, and is 11/4 to do so anytime against the Blues.

Spain cap Bojan Krkic, who arrived from Barcelona in the summer, has also started to discover some form recently, having notched to sink the Gunners, and is 5/1 chance in the anytime market.