N’Golo Kante is set to return while Mason Mount will be in contention to feature when Chelsea welcome Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will be hoping to continue their winning momentum heading into the international break when they play hosts to Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon. And, Frank Lampard has had a mixed bag of news to report on the injury front ahead of the weekend fixture.
There are no issues whatsoever in the goalkeeping department, with Kepa Arrizabalaga fit and available. The Spaniard, though, will want to forget the bizarre own goal he conceded against Ajax with a strong performance against Crystal Palace.
Meanwhile, Lampard provided an update on Antonio Rudiger, who continues to remain sidelined with a groin injury that has bothered him all season. During his pre-match press conference, the Chelsea boss gave a definitive timeline on the German’s return.
“He had an operation and is probably going to be out for around three weeks. We will have to see where the match fitness comes in then, because it is a long time he has been out now. It was nice to get something definitive about it.”
With Rudiger unavailable and Andreas Christensen still not fit enough to return, Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori pick themselves as the hosts’ central defensive partnership. There is likely to be one change in defence, however, with Emerson Palmieri expected to replace Marcos Alonso. Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta will start on the right flank.
Up ahead in midfield, the good news is that N’Golo Kante is set to return. With the Frenchman fit and available, a selection dilemma beckons Lampard. But, the Chelsea manager will not be bothered by that against Crystal Palace, seeing as Jorginho is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card last week at Watford.
Kante will, thus, replace Jorginho, with Mateo Kovacic being his partner. Lampard also talked about Mason Mount and Ross Barkley, two players who are dealing with their respective ankle injuries.
“Ross has got an ongoing issue so he’s not in the squad tomorrow. It’s a conversation I’ll have with Gareth [Southgate], Steve [Holland], Ross and everyone to see how it pans out for him over the next 10 days. I’m not sure on that one but he won’t be in our squad. With Mason, he’s in the squad, we’re giving him another 24 hours and we’ll make a call on that one in the morning.”
Judging by Lampard’s comments, it looks as if Mount might not be risked against Crystal Palace and will instead start on the bench. With Barkley unavailable, Christian Pulisic could move to the no. 10 role, with Callum Hudson-Odoi starting on the left flank. Willian will be deployed on the right wing, with Tammy Abraham leading the line for Chelsea.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Emerson; Kovacic, Kante; Willian, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi; Abraham