Chelsea will be looking to get a win under their belt in another London derby as they host Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea’s season has stuttered a bit. The Blues sit fifth on the Premier League table, 5 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham and are already out of the other domestic competitions. Chelsea have won just one of their last five games and will be looking to close the gap between them and Tottenham, especially with Spurs playing on Sunday.
Crystal Palace seemed to have steered clear of the drop zone after the appointment of Roy Hodgson. But, they have somehow played their way back into the relegation scrap, with the club now 18th on the table. Winless in the last six Premier Leagues, the London derby will serve as a match where Hodgson will be looking for his side to regain their temperament.
Crystal Palace’s last visit to Chelsea was successful for the Eagles, with the away side winning 2-1 at the Bridge. Ahead of their latest encounter, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Tiemoue Bakayoko, David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu are all sidelined for the tie. Ross Barkley and N’Golo Kante are both doubts for the match against Crystal Palace.
Antonio Conte’s gamble to play a rather defensive-minded setup backfired and the Italian is likely to revert back to a more attacking style on Saturday. Conte is also likely to welcome Alvaro Morata back into the lineup or Olivier Giroud, based on whether the manager deems the Spaniard as fit enough to start.
Pedro is the most probable player to give way to a striker in the front three, with Eden Hazard likely to slot back into his position on the wing.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Drinkwater, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard; Morata
Wilfried Zaha could make a remarkable recovery to feature on Saturday, much to the delight of Roy Hodgson, who has had to contend with a host of injury issues in the recent weeks. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is also in contention to feature after sitting out the defeat to Manchester United, as he was ineligible to play against his parent club.
Elsewhere, Hodgson’s injury troubles seem to have no signs of easing up, with Connor Wickham, Scott Dann, Julian Speroni, Jason Puncheon, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Bakary Sako and Mamadou Sakho all confirmed absentees for the match against Chelsea.
Joel Ward and Yohann Cabaye are both doubts but Hodgson would hope either or both of the players are able to make the cut in time and feature in some capacity against Chelsea.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Schlupp; Riedewald, Milivojevic, McArthur; Townsend, Benteke, Zaha
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.10
2. Crystal Palace Asian Handicap +1.5 @ 2.020
1. Christian Benteke to score anytime @ 4.75
1. Crystal Palace have managed to get on the scoresheet in 4 of their last 5 visits to Stamford Bridge.
2. Surprisingly, Chelsea have struggled at home to Crystal Palace of late, losing their last two meetings with an identical scoreline of 2-1.
3. Chelsea have lost four of their last five games, having lost the same number of times in the 30 games before the run.
4. As mentioned above, Chelsea have lost their last two home meetings against Crystal Palace. The last time they lost three home London derbies in a row against a single opposition was vs Arsenal in April 1974.
5. Willian seems to have hit form at the right moment, with 4 goals in his last 4 games in all competitions for Chelsea.
Player to Watch
While the player is ideally not in contention to feature, reports say Zaha has made a remarkable recovery and could even start against Chelsea on Saturday. With Crystal Palace in a rut, the result will largely depend on Zaha’s availability, which could provide a huge boost to the traveling Crystal Palace players.
Chelsea 2-2 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace are potent when attacking. But, they have often set up defensively under Hodgson, using counter-attacks to move up the pitch and attempt to snatch points, especially against top-tier opposition.
They gave a good account of themselves against Manchester United and if not for a Nemanja Matic wonder strike and a world-class David De Gea save, the Eagles should have had three points to show for their efforts.
Against Chelsea, the Eagles should continue where they left off against Manchester United. And with Chelsea struggling to get wins under their belt of late, this could be a tie that ends in a draw, perhaps, with another comeback by the opposition.