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Chelsea too strong for Brentford in FA Cup

Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi (left) celebrates his goal against Brentford. Credit: PA

Branislav Ivanovic scored on his potential farewell appearance as Chelsea beat neighbours Brentford 4-0 in the FA Cup fourth round at Stamford Bridge.

Brentford, 15th in the Championship, took Chelsea to a replay four years ago, but there was little prospect of a repeat as the Blues claimed a 10th successive home win.

Willian, Pedro and Michy Batshuayi, with a penalty, were also on target for the Premier League leaders, whose only concern came when Willian went off midway through the second half after earlier holding his ankle.

Ivanovic replaced Willian and scored his 34th Chelsea goal on his 377th appearance, amid suggestions his nine-year stay at Stamford Bridge could come to an end before Tuesday's transfer deadline.

Chelsea defender Ivanovic faces uncertain future

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. Credit: PA

Antonio Conte has given no assurances over the Chelsea future of Branislav Ivanovic as Tuesday's transfer deadline approaches.

The Serbia defender, 33 next month, has made more than 350 appearances since signing from Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2008, winning every major club honour.

"I don't know if anything happens about him," Conte said.

"There are four days (remaining of the transfer window) and, in this month, there is a lot of speculation."

Ivanovic has slipped down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge since Conte switched to a 3-4-3 in September.

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Chelsea line-up vs Hull: Diego Costa returns to starting XI

Striker Diego Costa was restored to the Chelsea starting line-up at the first opportunity when the Premier League leaders met Hull at Stamford Bridge.

Costa missed last weekend's win at Leicester with a back injury, amid reports of a bust-up with Antonio Conte and his staff, as well as speculation over a move to the Chinese Super League.

The 28-year-old replaced Willian in the only change to the starting XI, returning to make his 100th Chelsea appearance.

Victory without Costa 'important' for Chelsea manager

Conte doesn't want Chelsea to become dependent on Costa. Credit: PA

Antonio Conte thinks it is important Chelsea have demonstrated they can win without Diego Costa.

The Blues extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points with a comfortable 3-0 victory against Leicester on Saturday, courtesy of two goals from Marcos Alonso and another from Pedro.

Following reports this week that Costa had a disagreement with the Chelsea boss and his coaching staff amid rumours of a big-money offer from a Chinese Super League club, the 28-year-old was left out of the squad at the King Power Stadium. However, Conte insisted his leading goal scorer did not travel because of a back problem.

Nevertheless, Chelsea made light work of Costa's absence as Eden Hazard played centrally, with Pedro and Willian either side of him - as they had done with equal success against Bournemouth on Boxing Day when Costa was suspended.

Conte said:

I think it's important to have another plan, to play without a number nine is another solution. It is important.

We show it against Bournemouth and again we play without a number nine and we won the games 3-0 and 3-0. It is important always to play as a team and then to have a different solution is important for me and for the team.

– Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

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Diego Costa left out of Chelsea squad for Leicester trip

Chelsea striker Diego Costa. Credit: PA

Diego Costa has been left out of Chelsea's matchday squad against champions Leicester.

The striker was not expected to feature in the game and his absence was officially confirmed when the club's team sheet was handed out at the King Power Stadium.

It's understood Costa did not travel with the rest of the squad for the Premier League fixture on Saturday evening.

Chelsea may appeal John Terry red card - Conte

Chelsea captain John Terry argues his case with referee Kevin Friend. Credit: PA

Antonio Conte believes referee Kevin Friend was wrong to send off John Terry in Sunday's FA Cup third-round win over Peterborough and says Chelsea are considering an appeal.

Terry, making his first start since the EFL Cup exit at West Ham in October and first appearance since November, was adjudged to be last man when he fouled Lee Angol and was shown a straight red card by Friend.

Blues boss Conte felt Terry did not make contact with Angol and Branislav Ivanovic was a covering defender.

"I think it wasn't right, this decision from the referee," Conte said.

"He didn't take the opponent and also the second reason was because behind John there was Ivanovic to cover John.

"You have to respect the referee decision, but in this case maybe we will do an appeal for this situation.

"The situation is very clear and I think John didn't deserve this. It's a pity when this happens, because the red card is not good."

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