After losing back-to-back games in the league, Chelsea are all set to square up against relegation-threatened Crystal Palace away from home.
Chelsea will look to bring an end to their struggle when they hit to road to square up against Crystal Palace. The Blues have not been able to get back on track despite spending millions and appointing Mauricio Pochettino as their boss in the summer. But, they will hope to finish this season on a high by winning as many matches as possible.
As far as the Eagles are concerned, they will have to battle it out for survival in the English top flight. They are just five points clear of the drop zone, and a few wrong results could put them right in the battle.
Crystal Palace are currently 15th on the points table, with 24 points out of their 23 matches. They have only won six games so far this season, playing out a draw on as many occasions. Having suffered 11 defeats, they cannot really afford to lose a lot more from here on.
The South London club have only won two out of their last five games and are heading into this one on the back of a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion. The Seagulls dominated the ball, created more chances and came out on top in the end.
The Eagles will have to do much better to return to winning ways. As far as Chelsea are concerned, nothing much has changed since last season. Despite investing all the money in the world and bringing in a new boss, they have not been able to deliver the kind of performance one expects from the Blues.
They are 11th on the points table with 31 points after 23 matches thanks to nine wins, four draws and ten defeats. The West London club are 12 points clear of the drop zone. But, the biggest worry has been their recent form. After winning three consecutive games in the league, they have lost their last two league outings.
If they do not get things sorted, the match against the Eagles could turn out to be a lot more difficult than it already is. Meanwhile, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams and tries to predict the tactics they could put to use.
Team News & Tactics
The decision to bring on Michael Olise in a lost cause while carrying an injury has backfired, and the 22-year-old is now out for several weeks. Marc Guehi also picked up an injury last week, and he is unavailable.
Apart from the duo, Cheick Doucoure, Rob Holding, Eberechi Eze, and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi are unavailable. Joel Ward has a race against time to be back fit in time for this fixture.
The Eagles will go ahead with the 4-3-3 formation, where Dean Henderson will be in goal. Daniel Munoz, and Tyrick Mitchell will be the two full-backs. In the heart of the defence, Chris Richards will start alongside Joachim Andersen.
Winter signing Adam Wharton will start alongside Jefferson Lerma and Will Hughes. The trio will look to ensure they dictate the pace of the game and have the majority of the ball possession. As far as the attack is concerned, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew will provide the width while Jean-Philippe Mateta will lead the line for Crystal Palace against Chelsea.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Henderson; Munoz, Richards, Andersen, Mitchell; Hughes, Wharton, Lerma; Ayew, Mateta, Schlupp
Benoit Badiashile picked up an injury in their last outing and is unavailable for the London derby. He joins Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana, Reece James, Lesley Ugochukwu, and Romeo Lavia on the sidelines. Robert Sanchez is back training but he is not ready to feature yet.
They do have a boost as Levi Colwill and Trevoh Chalobah are back in full training and are available for selection. Mauricio Pochettino will most probably start Thiago Silva in the heart of the defence after having benched him in their last outing.
The former Tottenham Hotspur boss will stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation, where Djordje Petrovic will be in goal. Malo Gusto and Ben Chilwell will be his two full-backs. In the heart of the defence, Axel Disasi will feature against the Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva.
The back four will aim for a clean sheet, and they will have the support of Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo in getting it done. They will be the double pivot in front of the backline, the duo will look to ensure they dominate the proceedings.
Noni Madueke and Cole Palmer will provide width to their attacks. They will look to stretch the opposition and cut inside when the opportunity presents itself. Conor Gallagher will feature as the attacking midfielder. while Nicolas Jackson will be leading the line for the Blues.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Silva, Chilwell; Fernandez, Caicedo; Palmer, Gallagher, Madueke; Jackson
- Chelsea have won each of their last 12 league games against the Eagles. Winning the 13th will make it the Blues longest winning streak against a single opposition.
- The Blues won the reverse fixture 2-1 back in December.
- While the Eagles have not been in the best of forms, they have won their last two home league games.
- Chelsea are heading into this one on the back of two consecutive defeats in the league.
- The Eagles are the joint third-lowest-scoring team in the division with 26 goals in 23 outings.
Player to Watch
Gallagher was on the verge of parting ways with his childhood club last summer, but he decided against it. The England international wanted to fight for his place in the team, and he has managed to work his way into Mauricio Pochettino’s plans.
The 24-year-old midfielder has already featured in 31 matches this season. He has been a consistent performer and has managed to contribute towards seven goals. Gallagher might not be the start of the show, but he can surely have a huge say in the end result
Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea
Both teams have been inconsistent so far, and their recent record suggests it will be a closely-fought encounter. Despite the difference in quality of the two squads, their results on the pitch have been quite similar.
The Blues have lost their previous two league outings, while the Eagles have three defeats in their last five outings. It is going to be a hard day for both teams in the office but eventually, Chelsea might come out top because of the incredible amount of talent they have in their ranks. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the visitors.