Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from a humbling defeat to West Bromwich Albion as they travel to face Crystal Palace in a London derby. On paper, this should be a winnable game for the Blues, but they will need to avoid complacency, especially after their first defeat under Thomas Tuchel. Palace are safe and they will be planning for next season, but Roy Hodgson won’t let standards slip. They earned a good point against Everton on Monday night and they could have won on another night.
The summer will be one of transition for Crystal Palace. They have an ageing squad and manager Roy Hodgson will be out of contract. It is a big decision for the Palace board to make regarding their manager’s future. On the one hand, he has stabilised the team as mid-table regulars and relegation looks unlikely under his stewardship. That said, the style of play has received criticism from supporters and the squad needs a major overhaul. It might be a wiser move to bring a younger coach in to oversee that. For the rest of the current campaign, there is little for the Eagles to play for, but Hodgson will want the players to finish strongly.
The midweek 2-0 victory over Porto has allowed Chelsea to bounce back and provided them with a dominant position in their Champions League tie. This will mean that Tuchel can focus on fielding a strong team in the Premier League, as they attempt to claw their way back into the top four. At the time of writing, they are one point below West Ham and five points behind Leicester City in third. The aim will be to overhaul both teams and finish in the Champions League places with comfort.
- Crystal Palace have only lost once in their previous six Premier League matches.
- Since Tuchel took over, no goalkeeper in the top five leagues has more clean sheets in all competitions than Edouard Mendy. He has ten under the German coach.
The next few weeks will be crucial for Wilfried Zaha, as he attempts to put himself in the shop window. At the age of 28, the opportunity to leave for a bigger club is quickly disappearing, but there may be more incentive to sell for Palace this summer. If the Eagles are planning a significant summer rebuild, they will need to have funds for it and Zaha is their biggest asset. This season has been a positive one for the winger, as he has contributed nine goals and two assists. He has reached double figures only once previously and he will be hoping to reach his highest goal return in the coming weeks. Chelsea showed that they are vulnerable to the counter-attack last weekend. Zaha has the pace and directness to cause them real problems. Palace will have little of the ball on Saturday, therefore they will need to take advantage of the chances that do come their way. Zaha will be key in the home team earning a credible result.
It is becoming clear that Mason Mount is an important player for Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. He started from the bench last weekend, before being brought on to score one of the consolation goals for the Blues. The England international then followed this up with an excellent performance in the Champions League. His turn and shot for his goal underlined the quality he possesses in the final third. Mount has now scored three times in his last six appearances for Chelsea across all competitions. The midfielder looks to enjoy the attacking responsibility placed on him in the 3-4-3 formation and confidence is flowing in his game. Palace will set up with a deep block and try to frustrate the visitors. In Mount, they have a player capable of producing a moment of quality to break down a determined defence. He will be key during the run-in.
Nathaniel Clyne and James McCarthy are both doubts for the weekend. Michy Batshuayi will be unavailable to face his parent club. James McArthur, Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins remain on the sidelines.
Thiago Silva will be suspended following his red card last weekend. He will be the only absentee for Chelsea, but Tuchel may opt to rotate his team, with Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud all contenders to start.
It is going to be a difficult match for Crystal Palace, as Chelsea have been very consistent under Thomas Tuchel. The Blues’ defeat to West Brom seemed to be a blip as they returned to winning ways in the week. This should be an away win, as Chelsea try to get their top four assault back on track. They should have too much quality for the Eagles.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Chelsea