Chelsea face Roy Hodgson’s out of form Crystal Palace side on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.
The West Londoners have definitely had their ups and downs against the Eagles in recent times, with Palace winning two of their last three in SW6.
Upon winning their sixth league title, Chelsea fell short to a Palace side who simply performed better on the day. Zaha and Benteke scored not long after Cesc Fabregas’s opener in April 2017.
On the other hand, the Blues memorably secured their fifth Premier League title against the South Londoners in 14/15, thanks to an Eden Hazard penalty rebound. Hazard cooly headed past Speroni after having his initial spot-kick saved.
With a Mourinho-esque pragmatic Chelsea now in the past, a more attacking and elegant Chelsea has evolved. This has provided a more clinical Eden Hazard this year, who is only expected to play half a game in Sunday’s clash.
Previously, Crystal Palace would have used this game to match the Blues on the counter attack but Palace haven’t been the best recently. Losing to Everton, drawing with Arsenal and losing midweek to Middlesborough, they’ll now have to deal with Chelsea’s passing and possession based ‘Sarriball’ approach.
The Chelsea squad come into this weekend’s game after narrowing Lampard’s Derby 3-2, with not one but two own goals falling in the Blue’s favour. Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori unfortunately conceding the silliest of own goals whilst Cesc Fabregas got the third goal to ensure the game was won and sealed.
Maurizio Sarri is unbeaten in his first ten games as a Premier League manager and could be the first to make it eleven since Frank Clark at Nottingham Forest in 1994.
Chelsea’s Italian boss revealed to the media on Friday that Olivier Giroud is set to miss the London derby due to muscle fatigue. Ethan Ampadu is still missing, hopefully to return within the next couple of weeks.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is more than likely to play a good part of Sunday’s fixture against his club from last year due to Hazard’s fitness.
A thorn in Chelsea’s side in previous games, Wilfried Zaha is likely to play against Chelsea after recovering from a shoulder problem. Palace absentees include Benteke, Dann and Ward.
My predicted Chelsea XI :
Kepa, Alonso, Luiz, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Barkley, Jorginho, Kante, Hazard, Morata, Pedro.
Sunday’s game is sure to be an interesting spectacle just in time to match the November fireworks.
Bradley Walton – @Brad29_