Crystal Palace received a major boost as both Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante are set to miss out the match against the Eagles. Both the Chelsea players have been extensively used by Antonio Conte this season and it seems the manager will have to seek an alternative solution in the absence of the duo.
Kante hobbled off in France’s 1-0 win over Bulgaria and the severity of his injury is still unknown. The midfielder will go through further tests once he returns to London and only then, Conte would be able to decide the future course of action.
Morata also injured his hamstring in the 1-0 loss against Manchester City and now is facing a race against time to be match-fit ahead of their visit to the Selhurst Park. It is unlikely to be a tough contest given Palace’s recent run of form but in the Premier League, you simply cannot take any chances.
The defending champions had almost an injury free last season which eased their passage to the Premier League title. But from the start of this season, Conte has had a number of injury issues to deal with, which has been a stumbling block for the Stamford Bridge outfit.
Conte already juggled with the injury of Eden Hazard who missed a brief period of Chelsea’s initial part of the season. The Belgian winger has been the best player for the Blues in the last couple of seasons and now will be looking to get back to his best.
The manager brought in Danny Drinkwater as a midfield cover but the former Leicester City midfielder is currently injured and is unlikely to be fit in time for the Palace game. Kante’s injury means the Italian gaffer has to tweak his set up a bit and we could see a Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko as a new midfield pairing.
Bakayoko arrived from Monaco and needs to take the charge in the absence of his fellow countryman Kante. Emulating Kante’s task would be huge for him as the French midfielder virtually roams around the field to create spaces for his team. Fabregas will be in his usual box to box role to get the creative job done.
Upfront, it should be a return for Michy Batshuayi who has been playing the second fiddle to Morata. Overall Chelsea still have the firepower to derail Palace but they have to be very disciplined in a bid to get all three points.
However, as atrocious as Palace have been this season, absence of two of the most influential players for the visitors might just be the kind of break they needed to get their first points on board this season. Can they even take all three?