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Crystal Palace vs Chelsea preview: Team news, form guide and predicted lineup

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Fresh from being crowned champions of the world for the first time in their history, Chelsea return to Premier League action with a London derby against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The match will be Chelsea’s first league outing in almost a month, but they take on a Palace side still winless in the top flight so far this calendar year.

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Match preview

Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the Club World Cup on February 12, 2022© Reuters

The Club World Cup has its detractors, but try telling that to Thomas Tuchel and his players following their triumphant return from Abu Dhabi.

Kai Havertz – scorer of the winner in the Champions League final last season – secured another trophy for the club with a penalty late in extra time of their final against Palmeiras on Saturday, wrapping up a 2-1 win.

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That is now two pieces of silverware for the Blues this term, and there could still be three more to come with an EFL Cup final against Liverpool at the end of this month, a Champions League last-16 tie with Lille and the Premier League still mathematically within their reach.

At the very least, the Club World Cup success should give an injection of momentum into the latter bid, although it may be too little too late with Chelsea now 16 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, albeit with a game in hand.

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The faltering form of those behind them means that Chelsea remain fairly comfortable in third place – six points clear of fifth-placed West Ham United with a game in hand – despite the Blues failing to win back-to-back league games since October.

Chelsea celebrate scoring a goal against Tottenham Hotspur on January 23, 2022© Reuters

Tuchel’s men have a chance to do just that on Saturday courtesy of their 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in their last Premier League match on January 23, since when they needed extra time to see off League One Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup before going on to win the Club World Cup.

That triumph over Tottenham was their first in five league games and only their third in 10 since December 1 – a run which includes defeat to West Ham in their last away London derby.

Having won their previous seven such matches before that, Chelsea now face the prospect of losing back-to-back top-flight London derbies on the road for the first time since December 2017, when incidentally they were beaten by Palace and West Ham in succession.

The Eagles have only won one of their last 16 Premier League London derbies, though, and they head into Saturday’s match in growing need of victory.

Patrick Vieira‘s side have slipped down to 13th in the table having taken just three points from the 15 on offer so far this calendar year.

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira reacts on February 12, 2022© Reuters

Nine points still separate them from the relegation zone and so Palace will not be looking nervously over their shoulders just yet, but the improving form of many of those behind them has marginally increased the urgency to find a return to winning ways.

Back-to-back draws against promoted duo Norwich City and Brentford – both of whom are below them in the table – would not have raised too much hope that they could push for a top-half finish, although Saturday’s showdown with Chelsea may hold cause for more optimism.

Two of Palace’s five wins this season have come against teams starting the day in the top four, with Vieira’s men having already toppled Tottenham and Man City this season.

Another victory on Saturday would see them win three games against top-four teams in a single top-flight campaign for the first time ever, although they go into the weekend having lost both Premier League home games so far this year.

Not since July 2020 have Palace lost three top-flight home games on the bounce, but it would take an unexpected reversal of form to avoid that fate this weekend.

Crystal Palace Premier League form:
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • D
Crystal Palace form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • D
Chelsea Premier League form:
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • W
Chelsea form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Reece James suffers an injury on December 29, 2021© Reuters

Reece James travelled out to Abu Dhabi with the rest of the Chelsea squad but played no part in the Club World Cup as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury.

The full-back remains a doubt for this match, but he is closing in on a return and there is a chance he could be included in the matchday squad at Selhurst Park.

Fellow full-back Ben Chilwell remains sidelined with a long-term knee injury, while Mason Mount is also absent after suffering an ankle ligament injury in the Club World Cup final, with the midfielder now facing a race against time to be fit for the EFL Cup final.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek missed the trip to Abu Dhabi through injury but is now back in training and could be in contention to feature.

Tuchel may have one eye on Tuesday’s first leg with Lille too, which could open the door for fringe players such as Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech to feature.

Pulisic has scored five goals in his five top-flight meetings with Crystal Palace, while Ziyech has found the back of the net in his last two Premier League games for Chelsea.

Palace will be without Chelsea loanee and top scorer Conor Gallagher, who is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Nathan Ferguson is expected to be sidelined until April, but Cheikhou Kouyate should be available again after helping Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory.

Centre-back Marc Guehi should start against his former club, while Michael Olise will be hopeful of a starting role having been directly involved in seven goals from his last seven appearances.

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Butland; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Kouyate, Hughes, Schlupp; Ayew, Edouard, Zaha

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Lukaku, Pulisic

 

We say: Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea

None of the last 21 Premier League games between these two sides has finished level, and we are backing Chelsea to keep that run going with a ninth successive win over Palace on Saturday.

Indeed, Chelsea’s win percentage against Palace of 76% is the highest by one team over another in Premier League history, and their Club World Cup triumph should boost them when it comes to their faltering domestic form.

Palace have not been easy to beat this season and so it is unlikely to be straightforward for the visitors, but they should have enough to earn all three points.

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