Chelsea will travel across London on Saturday to face the English Premier League’s bottom club Crystal Palace.
The Blues’ 1-0 defeat in their previous league game against leaders Manchester City drops them down to fourth in the league table, whilst Palace are yet to register a goal or a point in the division in this campaign.
Antonio Conte is set to be without three members of his first team squad for the clash at Selhurst Park. Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante have both suffered hamstring injuries in the past fortnight, whilst Danny Drinkwater, who has not yet featured for The Blues since signing in August, is still struggling with a calf problem.
Here is our predicted team ahead of this weekend’s London derby.
Predicted line up: (3-4-3) Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill; Victor Moses, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, Marcos Alonso; Willian, Eden Hazard, Pedro
Predicted substitutes: Willy Caballero, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Davide Zappacosta, Ethan Ampadu, Kenedy, Michy Batshuayi
Belgium’s first choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who has so far kept three clean sheets in the league this season, is set to retain his spot in the starting line-up.
David Luiz has missed Chelsea’s last three domestic matches after receiving a red card during last month’s 0-0 draw against Arsenal; he is set to return into the middle of the back three, where Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill are likely to be either side of him.
After Conte claimed that he was being rested against Man City due to fatigue, Victor Moses is likely to be called back into the starting side at right wing-back.
With Kante and Drinkwater’s injuries likely to keep them out of the match, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas are The Blues’ only other senior central midfield options.
Marcos Alonso is the strongest candidate to start at left wing-back, as he is the only player in the squad who can naturally play there.
The absence of Alvaro Morata leaves Conte without his top goalscorer. After the Italian manager failed to immediately replace the Spaniard with Belgian forward Michy Batshuayi when the player was forced off injured against Man City, many questions were asked regarding how much faith Conte really has in playing Batshuayi.
Therefore, Chelsea could line up by playing Eden Hazard in the ‘false 9’ role, where we he would fluidly rotate with fellow natural wingers Pedro and Willian.
The lack of depth in central midfield could earn 17-year-old Wales international Ethan Ampadu a place on the bench.
The absences of Kante and Morata will make it very difficult for The Blues to leave the home of The Eagles with three points.
Chelsea should pick up the victory, but Palace’s form and lack of goals will be something that they will want to change against the current title holders.
Score Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea
By Jonty Colman