Hull City will be looking for their first Premier League victory against Chelsea as they play the Blues at the KC Stadium on Saturday.
The Tigers (6-5-9) ended 2013 in spectacular style with a 6-0 home win against Fulham on Dec. 28, and despite a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool on New Year's Day, they remain in the top half of the table in 10th position on 23 points.
Steve Bruce's side returned to their winning ways last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Championship side Middlesbrough in an FA Cup third-round match, with Aaron McLean and Nick Proschwitz scoring on either side of halftime.
Defender Curtis Davies has hailed the club's team spirit as one of the reasons the Tigers enjoyed a positive first half of the season.
"We all work hard together and work hard for each other," Davies told his club's official website. "But at the same time, we also have that quality to help us get over the line.
"The fact that we all get on well does help and we're all willing to dig in for each other. The squad that the manager has put together is a very good one and the fact that we've gelled together well is helping to move us on to get results."
Chelsea (13-4-3) are third in table - two points behind leaders Arsenal - and make the trip to East Yorkshire on the back of some strong performances in recent weeks. They won their last three top-flight matches and have conceded just once in their last five games, with a resurgent John Terry dominant at the heart of the defence.
The Blues looked impressive when they won 3-0 at Southampton in the league on New Year's Day, with Fernando Torres, Willian and Oscar all scoring second-half goals. They then won 2-0 at Derby County in the FA Cup last weekend, with John Mikel Obi and Oscar on target.
Nigeria midfielder Mikel celebrated his goal and team victory against Middlesbrough but was quick to praise the influence of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
"If we can pick up this trophy it will be very good for us and the manager stressed how important this competition is, but we still want to keep doing well in the Premier League and the Champions League of course," Mikel told the Chelsea official club website. "We have always had this winning mentality at Chelsea. This manager installed it into this team and now he is back and he has installed it into the new players.
"There have been a lot of games in the last month and I think we did pretty well. We just want to keep building and now we are starting to know what the manager wants from us. It is starting to pay off and hopefully at the end of the season we will be smiling."
Tigers defender Paul McShane has been ruled out with an ankle injury, while striker Sone Aluko and winger Robbie Brady remain sidelined with Achilles and groin injuries respectively.
The Blues will again be without midfielder Frank Lampard (muscle) and defender Branislav Ivanovic (knee).
Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 win over Hull in the opening match of the season at Stamford Bridge. Lampard missed a penalty after only six minutes before Oscar opened the scoring on 13 minutes. Lampard then added a second before the half-hour mark. The Blues held 66 percent of the ball and fired in 23 shots in the match.
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- Premier League
- John Mikel Obi