Howe: Chelsea Are Still a Team to Beat Even Without Costa, Kante

December 23, 2016, 12:28 pm

Eddie Howe believes Chelsea will not be significantly weakened by the absence of leading scorer Diego Costa and midfielder N'Golo Kante when they host his Bournemouth team in the Premier League on Boxing Day.

Both players, who are suspended for the match, have been key to the league leaders' success this season but Howe said Chelsea still had enough strength in depth to be a tough proposition for 10th-placed Bournemouth.

"Chelsea have a very good squad and players of equal ability will come in," Howe told a news conference on Friday.

"I've huge respect for (Chelsea manager) Antonio Conte. The way the Italy team played in the Euros was impressive. He's stuck to his way of playing."

Howe will not be able to play on-loan defender Nathan Ake, who is not eligible for selection against his parent club, but midfield duo Junior Stanislas (ankle) and Andrew Surman (hamstring) have an outside chance of playing.

Chelsea will make it 12 out of 12 if the can beat Bournemouth and it will surely be a big Christmas present to the Blues fans                        

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