Chelsea head to Selhurst Park on Sunday to take on the most recent giant killer in Crystal Palace. Trips to Selhurst Park are rarely straightforward for Chelsea in recent memory, and Crystal Palace’s recent three-match unbeaten streak won’t make it any easier.
Palace are coming off of a draw against Cardiff on Boxing Day, but a let-down was always possible after their 3-2 win last Saturday against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
A confident Palace isn’t necessarily the opponent Chelsea would be looking forward to facing. Complacency in matches have been an issue all season for Chelsea. With the likes of Wilfried Zaha carrying Palace’s attacking threat, the Blues will have to remain sharp throughout the match.
But Maurizio Sarri is going to have to make changes for Sunday’s match. While many decried the lack of changes to the side made by Sarri in the wake of the defeat to Leicester, Sunday’s changes are almost enforced.
Pedro went off injured against Watford with a hamstring problem and is likely to miss two weeks. His replacement against Watford was Callum Hudson-Odoi, and he also limped off with a muscle injury and is likely to not feature.
It likely means that the Eden Hazard as a striker experiment may be delayed for at least this week. Alvaro Morata is back in training and Olivier Giroud was an unused substitute against Watford.
With both strikers now fit, Sarri is likely to start one of his two centre forwards, but he could once again send Hazard out as a striker with Ruben Loftus-Cheek available and able to play in a wide position if that system is chosen.
But Selhurst Park is a tough place to play, and Chelsea did lose to Palace in last season’s visit. Whether Palace can replicate their away heroics against Manchester City back at their home ground remains to be seen. But Chelsea cannot afford to repeat the mistakes seen against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester. Otherwise, another defeat could be on the cards.