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Eden Hazard on bench as Chelsea face Stoke City

Eden Hazard has been dropped to the substitutes' bench by Antonio Conte for Chelsea's clash with Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.

Speaking in a news conference on Friday, Conte insisted that he would not pick his team to face Stoke with Chelsea's first match of 2018 -- a trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on rivals Arsenal on Wednesday -- in mind, but Hazard has been given a rare rest from the start as Willian and Pedro Rodriguez flank Alvaro Morata in a 3-4-3 formation.

Hazard's future at Chelsea has also been the subject of intense speculation this week courtesy of comments from his father Thierry, who told Belgian newspaper Le Soir that his son is keeping his future options open in the hope of attracting an offer from Real Madrid next summer.

Danny Drinkwater has been handed only his third Premier League start of the season in central midfield, replacing Tiemoue Bakayoko and reuniting with former Leicester City teammate N'Golo Kante.

In defence, Andreas Christensen returns to the Chelsea bench after illness kept him out of the Boxing Day win over Brighton, with club captain Gary Cahill continuing in the middle of the back three.

Stoke, meanwhile, make six changes, with Xherdan Shaqiri, Joe Allen, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Peter Crouch among the substitutes, while Josh Tymon makes his first Premier League start.

Chelsea XI: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger, Moses, Kante, Drinkwater, Alonso, Willian, Morata, Pedro.

Chelsea substitutes: Caballero, Christensen, Zappacosta, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Hazard, Batshuayi.

Stoke City XI: Butland, Edwards, Cameron, Wimmer, Tymon, Diouf, Fletcher, Adam, Afellay, Ramadan, Berahino.

Stoke City substitutes: Grant, Allen, Choupo-Moting, Shaqiri, Crouch, Ngoy, Souttar.


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