Chelsea will be looking to keep their spectacular winning run in the league going when they welcome Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge later today. The Blues are coming into this tie on the back of a thrilling 4-4 comeback draw against Ajax in West London. A passionate looking Chelsea side came back from 4-1 down to level the scoreline in the second half and even had chances to win the game on the night.
Crystal Palace currently find themselves in 9th place, owing mainly to their defeat at the hands of high-flying Leicester City last time around. Despite this, Palace are sure to have their tails up when they travel to Stamford Bridge, as Roy Hodgson’s men will be looking for the first win since their defeat of West Ham at the beginning of last month.
Chelsea, in 4th, need this win to keep up with the pace being set by the leaders. They have a great chance to make up the gap, as Manchester City and Liverpool face off against each other later.
The Blues have been all about free-flowing, attacking football since the start of the campaign, and Frank Lampard’s philosophy isn’t expected to change any time soon. This crop of Chelsea players looks like they know what it means to pull on the royal blue shirts, giving it their 100% every time they step out onto the pitch. Expect the Blues to press the ball in their own half, and be expansive while going forward as well. Mateo Kovacic will be looking to control the flow of the game from midfield – something he’s done superbly so far this season.
Crystal Palace aren’t the quickest side on the counter, and could hence have to depend on the Blues’ defensive fragility from set-pieces. Despite the presence of big Kurt Zouma, the Blues have been shaky at the back – something Palace could look to take advantage of. The presence of clinical players like Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew in the Palace side means that they might only need one chance to change the outcome of the game.
The Blues squad is gradually returning to full strength, with N’Golo Kante expected to make his long-awaited return to the side this week. Jorginho’s league suspension couldn’t have come at a better time for Chelsea, as they can use this opportunity to ease Kante back into the first-team setup. Emerson could also return to the side after Marcos Alonso struggled against Ajax in midweek. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Antonio Rudiger are still recovering from knocks, while Mason Mount and Ross Barkley are doubts for this fixture as well.
Chelsea Predicted Lineup: Arizzabalaga; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Emerson; Kante, Kovacic; Willian, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi; Abraham.
Roy Hodgson has several small injury concerns to think about before selecting his team for the weekend. Although the likes of James McArthur, Gary Cahill and Cheikou Kouyate are recovering from slight niggles, they are expected to return to the side, ahead of what promises to be a tough game for the Eagles. Conor Wickham and Mamadou Sakho are still nursing long-term knocks and are out of contention for this tie. Andros Townsend remains a doubt for this fixture as well.
Crystal Palace Predicted Lineup: Guaita; Ward, Cahill, Tomkins, Van Aanholt; Schlupp, McArthur, Milevojevic, Kouyate, Zaha; Ayew.
Tammy Abraham regained his scoring touch on the weekend against Watford and will be looking to get back on top of the Golden Boot charts when the Blues welcome Palace.
In the absence of Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic is set to operate down the number ten role for Chelsea this weekend. The American has burst onto the scene in recent weeks and will be keen to keep his good run of form going.
Wilfried Zaha had a decent return of two goals and three assists from his eight games against Chelsea in the past, and he will have to be at his best if the Eagles have any hope of getting points from this tie.
Former Chelsea man Patrick Van Aanholt will have the opportunity to run at Cesar Azpilicueta, who put in quite a shift for the Blues in midweek. The speedster can cause the Blues skipper a lot of problems with his direct running.
The Blues currently sit pretty among the betting charts, thanks to back to back home clean sheets in the Premier League. With Palace visiting Stamford Bridge on the weekend, the Blues can be backed to win at 1/3, while a Palace win is currently at 9/1.
Christian Pulisic is 8/5 to score in the match, owed largely to the decent form he’s been showcasing in the league. Although it seems unlikely, a draw is currently priced at 4/1 as well.
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