Chelsea boost ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash at Stoke

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Stoke boss Mark Hughes is facing the prospect of heading into Saturday's Premier League clash against champions Chelsea with only one senior centre-back available.

While on-loan Kurt Zouma is ineligible to face his parent club, Ryan Shawcross (back) and Geoff Cameron (hamstring) remain sidelined, and Kevin Wimmer is a doubt due to a hamstring problem of his own.

Stoke City squad: Butland, Grant, Martins Indi, Wimmer, Johnson, Pieters, Souttar, Diouf, Tymon, Allen, Fletcher, Adam, Jese, Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting, Sobhi, Berahino, Crouch.

"Kevin is our major doubt for the game, so I am waiting on an update on his availability, we are desperately hoping he is OK. We're a little bit stretched, to say the least".

Hughes' side were dumped out after a 2-0 defeat at Bristol City, while Chelsea's second side hammered Nottingham Forest 5-1.

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Gunners fans will have been relieved to see a convincing home win against Bournemouth and a dogged draw at Chelsea, leaving them sat mid table and the horror shows at Stoke and Liverpool relatively forgotten.

The Blues' last league outing saw David Luiz become the fourth man sent off for them this season, including the Community Shield.

Stoke host Chelsea tomorrow and Hughes thinks they are struggling to master the dark arts this season.

"So is it an anomaly or a disciplinary issue?"

Although we are just five games in to the new season, the League table is already taking shape and some teams are already feeling the heat - both to keep in touch with the top of the table, or feeling the pressure at the wrong end of the Division.

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"Costa was brilliant at taking it up to the line and then stepping back, affecting opposition teams", Hughes told reporters.

"Maybe they haven't quite got that ability in terms of getting the dark arts right on spec".

Hughes admits he was a fan of Costa, who is set to leave Chelsea after months of acrimony to rejoin Atletico Madrid. It is a reach to say that manager Arsene Wenger's position at the Club is under threat - but he will know that if he wants a swift return to Champions League football via the Premier League, these are the games they must win - especially it being at the Emirates.

"He's a top player and the Premier League should have the top players playing in it".

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