Ahead of their crucial Champions League tie against Barcelona at Camp Nou, Chelsea must firstly contend with a Crystal Palace side who are reeling from a home loss to Manchester United despite taking a two-goal lead.
Antonio Conte’s side find themselves in fifth, five points behind their local rivals, whilst Roy Hodgson’s side are in the bottom three – level on points with Stoke City (in 19th), and one behind Southampton.
Though the hosts have one other Champions League qualification route (by winning the Champions League) they haven’t totally given up on a top-four finish yet, and a win here will boost their hopes.
As for the visitors, they’re involved in one of the tightest relegations scraps in years and earning maximum points away will give them a lift in confidence if they’re to avoid the drop.
The last time the sides met was back in early/ mid-October. Heading into the fixture at Selhurst Park, The Eagles were on the back of an exceptional appalling run which saw them lose seven of their opening fixtures (three under their current manager) without scoring a single goal. However, against all odds, they earned their first three points of the season with a shock win over the title holders (2-1).
Having passed out in the dressing room (due to the biting cold) following training last week, N’Golo Kante was described as being in “good form” by Conte.
Both David Luiz, and Ross Barkley are injured, but Conte didn’t want to say too much on the situation.
Asked about whether Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata will start, Conte will make a final decision as to which player will start, he also trusts them both, as he does with all of his players.
On the Crystal Palace front:
Wilfried Zaha has been training with the physios and was able to join with teammates in a modified session, which has pleased Hodgson, but is adhering to caution as the injury Zaha suffered was serious.
Based on how the Ivorian feels, Hodgson will see if he [Zaha] can play. He doesn’t want to make any rash decisions on the player.
The quick recovery of Wilfried Zaha has amazed everyone at Selhurst Park, but its best for Roy Hodgson to not throw him into the matchday squad as that does more harm than good.
Bakary Sako has joined in a light training session, but the former England manager says it’ll be unlikely that he starts.
Despite the Eagles’ home loss to Manchester United on Monday evening, I reckon they still have something to prove.
Chelsea will have Barcelona in mind, but will also have to concentrate on the task at hand.
I’m going for a home win, though I’d expect the away side to put out a battle.