After a home defeat to Leicester City The Eagles must go on the road to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Last week saw Crystal Palace’s excellent run against Leicester City come to an end as the dynamic Foxes marches into Selhurst Park and emerged with a convincing 2-0 win. This loss saw The Eagles slip down to ninth place and could fall into the bottom half of the table with another loss this weekend. The road ahead is not any easier for Palace as after visiting Chelsea they will then host current league leaders Liverpool at Selhurst Park.
After a shaky start to the season Chelsea have established themselves with five Premier League wins in a row under young manager Frank Lampard. The Blues sit firmly in the top four with six points separating them and fifth place and are only a win and favorable results away from second place. They have also had success in Europe this season, but find themselves in a dogfight atop their Champions League group after a incredible 4-4 draw with Ajax in mid-week.
Roy Hodgson may be forced to ring in some changes to his starting eleven for the trip to Stamford Bridge this week. James McArthur looks unlikely to play after being forced off early against Leicester due to a flare up of the back injury that has bothered him in recent years. The most natural replacement for the Scotsman would be James McCarthy; however, Hodgson could look to include Max Meyer to inject some creativity into an attack that was lethargic at best last weekend. Another area of change could come at the back as another goal surrendered on a corner kick could prompt a return of Martin Kelly to the defence in front of recently healthy Vicente Guaita.
Chelsea club legend Frank Lampard has proven true to his word on instituting a youth movement in West London. Academy products Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, and Tammy Abraham have emerged as stars under Lampard while other young players Christian Pulisic, Kurt Zouma, and Kepa are key players in an exciting squad. One question for the Blues could come in the midfielder where the ever present Jorginho will be suspended. This could lead to the reintroduction of N’Golo Kante, who has struggled to stay fit this season, or the dropping of Mount to a less forward position.
Palace will likely engage in the strategy they often do against the bigger sides, sit back and rely on an organized defence to frustrate the opposing attack while hoping to steal goals on the counter-attack. The first part if this plan will be made difficult by the attacking prowess of players such as the aforementioned Abraham, Mount, and Pulisic who will be joined by the ever present danger of Willian. Chelsea could be got at on the attack though as their mostly young defence has experienced growing pains that has led to an average defence in terms of goals conceded. The absence of Jorginho could also be crippling for the Blues attack as he has often proven the key to unlocking the opposition with passes that few others in the Premier League can make.
Despite the absence of Jorginho, this Chelsea team is one who is confident and in excellent form, meaning the home crowd will be rocking. This match is also not devoid of narratives with Gary Cahill making his return to Stamford Bridge wearing the colours of the opposition since 2012 following his summer departure from the club. Eyes will also, as usual, be on Wilfried Zaha who has yet to find his best form this season and has often been mentioned as a potential transfer target for Chelsea. In the end this is a tough task for Palace, one they can overcome, but that will require the whole team playing at the top of their game to achieve a result.