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Chelsea can keep it clean in routine win

Hull unlikely to notch at leaders

Premier League leaders Chelsea have had plenty to celebrate this season
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Antonio Conte looks to have won his personal battle with Diego Costa but there are bigger prizes up for grabs this season, most notably the Premier League trophy which will be of far more interest to Chelsea's impressive coach.

Costa's absence after a self-diagnosed injury couldn't stop Chelsea landing a 3-0 win at Leicester last week and with his star striker making a rapid recovery there seems little evidence Hull can cause the upset of the season at Stamford Bridge.

A routine Blues cruise seems likely for the long odds-on shots and, in a betting heat where there are a number of short prices knocking around, the 8-11 about a home win to nil makes most appeal.

Conte refused to confirm Costa's role in the starting 11 but either way it should not really matter against the Tigers. 

The reverse fixture in October marked the point when Chelsea's season made a dramatic turn for the better even though the 2-0 success did not hint at a sudden improvement in fortunes for the west Londoners.

They had been 25-1 for the title after successive losses at Liverpool and Arsenal but at Hull Conte first used a back three from the start.

Results since then with that formation have been staggering with 14 wins in 15 Premier League matches by an aggregate 35-6 and 11 victories to nil.

Only four times have Chelsea failed to keep a clean sheet in a league match since moving to a back three. Two of those fixtures were against Tottenham, one was away to Manchester City and Stoke are the only side outside the elite to find a way past Thibaut Courtois.

So this looks a thankless task for Hull, who have a goal difference of -25 and will find much easier fixtures to save themselves from relegation this season.

New manager Marco Silva has at least improved the mood around the club and his possession-based ideas seem to be suiting midfielders such as Ryan Mason and Tom Huddlestone.

Abel Hernandez gives the Tigers a bit of bite up front and spirits will be high after last week's 3-1 victory over Bournemouth, while the sale of Jake Livermore has helped finance short-term moves for right-back Omar Elabdellaoui and striker Oumar Niasse as well as a permanent deal for Evandro from Porto. 

Evandro and Elabdellaoui have previously played for Silva but Hull's safety could depend on whether Robert Snodgrass is tempted away from the relegation dogfight in this transfer window.

Snodgrass has been a class act for Hull in the final third despite their troubles this season and the fact he is rated doubtful for the Stamford Bridge trip is another reason to fancy a Chelsea clean sheet.  

Chelsea to win to nil
1pt 8-11 general

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Team news
Diego Costa returns to Chelsea, who have no injury problems.

Robert Snodgrass and Shaun Maloney are doubts but David Meyler has returned to training and new signing Omar Elabdellaoui is available. Markus Henriksen, Moses Odubajo and Alex Bruce are out. 

Key stat
Chelsea have won 2-0 in four of their last five meetings against Hull

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The results have been staggering with 14 wins in 15 Premier League matches by an aggregate 35-6 with 11 victories to nil
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