A Blue Up North previews our home match against Crystal Palace.
This Saturday sees Chelsea host Crystal Palace in the early evening kick off. After back to back matches against Barcelona and both Manchester clubs, this will be the first time in over 3 weeks that The Blues will be the bookies favourite to win a match. But more importantly for the supporters and everyone connected with the club, Chelsea will not be going into a match with defending being their main focus.
So possibly the most important question will be how will the team get on adjusting back to being the side expected to win. Recent weeks of training will have focused more on how to stop the opposition’s impressive striking options from tearing our defence apart. Now we should be back to focusing on dictating the match and breaking down a stubborn team who are well and truly in the relegation mire.
Yes, Crystal Palace are currently lying in 18th position and have only amassed 2 points from their last 6 Premier League matches but remember it was at Selhurst Park back in 14 October that they not only scored their first league goal of the season and gained their first point of the season but they actually beat the Champions for their first league victory of the season. And having won their encounter at Stamford Bridge last season, The Eagles are aiming to complete an unprecedented hat trick of league wins over The Blueson Saturday.
So Antonio Conte will do well to not underestimate their opponents, especially if they can recall their best players in Wilfred Zaha and Mamadou Sakho from their long injury list. With The Blues now down in 5th place, the Italian will be aiming at winning enough points in the remaining 9 Premier League matches to enable them to finish the season back up in the top 4. He will also need to ensure his side are not complacent with the return Champions League second leg in Barcelona coming up on Wednesday.
So yes we should be expecting a strong line up. There may be a slight tweak here and there to his starting XI, and most of those will be to offer a greater attacking presence. We can fully expect to see either Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud given a starting role. We may even see both start together for the first time.
Otherwise, and despite such a disappointing performance last time out, it will be mostly the same players who will start. Although this time around they will be sent out onto the pitch with a very different remit. Hopefully we will see a complete role reversal as Chelsea dominate possession and create chances with great regularity throughout, while the visitors will sit deep and attempt to be resolute in defence.
However we have already seen Chelsea struggle against less fancied opposition far too regularly this season and, after only 4 victories for The Blues in 15 matches so far in 2018, we cannot take anything for granted. Another bad day at the office for The Blues with misguided passing, lapses of concentration at the back and a lack of conviction in front of goal could easily lead to Roy Hodgson‘s side doing an unexpected double over the league champions.
But with a strong, confident, free flowing performance will see Chelsea sweep The Eagles aside and see return to winning ways. The perfect way to kick off the 9 match run in.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue