Crystal Palace welcomes newly crowned Club World Cup champions Chelsea on Premier League match-day 26. The Eagles have found some feet under new manager Patrick Viera this season.
Some mixed results have helped Crystal Palace remain mid-table, at 13th. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Champions League success last season prompted everybody to count them as serious challengers to Premier League title this season. However, Chelsea’s quest for a league title fell flat as they sit 16 points behind leader Manchester City.
Crystal palace are already a place above their last season’s finish. But a win here could further take them in the top-half of the table. Patrick Viera took over the managerial reigns as the start of the season and progress is there under the Frenchman. Though results have not gone their way, Palace have been somewhat rejuvenated by Viera’s appointment. Viera has build a strong and exciting team with a perfect blend of youth and experience. Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher has been in scintillating form this season under Viera. Crystal Palace can really dream of an upsetting here against Chelsea.
Crystal Palace Premier League form: L D L D D
Chelsea’s Premier League hopes are all but over at this stage. The Blues have themselves to blame at some extent for their league campaign’s collapse after they led the table until match-day 5. December is the most crucial period of the league and Chelsea won just 3 of their 7 games. Moreover, January also saw Chelsea win just one of their 4 league games. Injuries, fixture congestion and some controversies dealt a blow to Chelsea’s league results. However, this will be Chelsea’s first league game this month and Tuchel will be relying on a squad brimming with confidence to win all three points.
Chelsea Premier League form: D D L D W
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea: Team News
The Eagles’ team news
Patrick Viera has almost a fully-fit squad at his disposal against Chelsea. However, young center-back Nathan Ferguson, who can also play at any of the back four positions will miss out against Chelsea. Ferguson has suffered a hamstring injury and will be out for at least 5 to 6 weeks. Midfielder Will Hughes also picked up a knock against Brentford in the last game and is a doubt for Chelsea game.
Palace’s African Cup of Nations winner Kouyate is also out after he missed the Brentford game. Viera will be counting on captain Milivojevic to replace Hughes in the midfield. Meanwhile, Chelsea loanee will be gearing up to impress Thomas Tuchel as the 22-year-old has already racked up 7 goals and 3 assists in his 21 league games for Crystal Palace. Wilfried Zaha will surely lead the offense, and Benteke could replace Ayew.
Crystal Palace possible starting line-up
Guaita; Joel Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Tyrick Mitchell; Gallagher, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Olise, Benteke; Zaha
The Blues’ team news
Left-back Ben Chilwell remains out as his season is over after he underwent a surgery on his ruptured cruciate ligament. Chelsea suffered a huge setback in club world cup final as Mason Mount came-off with an ankle injury. In a further disappointing sight, the midfielder was seen walking with the help of crutches after the game finished. Mount is out for the Palace game, and is even a doubt for League Cup final against Liverpool. Reece James did some good amount of training after recovering from thigh injury and is contention to play some minutes against Palace.
Ruben Loftus Cheek is also a doubt after he missed Chelsea’s last 4 games. Christian Pulisic should come in for Mount, after he replaced the English midfielder against Palmeiras and worked wonders. Rudiger and Thiago Silva should lead the defense, while it remains to be seen who is the third defender. Lukaku should start again, with support from Ziyech.
Chelsea possible starting line-up
Mendy; Rudiger, Silva, Sarr; Ziyech, Kante, Jorginho, Hudson-Odoi; Pulisic, Werner; Lukaku
Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea
Though Chelsea are favorites to get all three points against Crystal Palace, don’t expect it to be a cakewalk. Given Chelsea’s recent displays, The Blues haven’t had an easy, fun-scoring game, except for a 5-1 win against fifth tier side chesterfield in FA Cup. Moreover, Tuchel’s men have failed to score more than two goals in their last 5 league games.The Eagles are a pacy and aggressive side under Patrick Viera. Crystal Palace can cause all sorts of problems to Chelsea.