A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s home match against Crystal Palace.
Chelsea host London rivals Crystal Palace in the early kick off this Saturday. The Blues are aiming to win their 6th consecutive Premier League match and to consolidate their top 4 place.
It is a run that has been rewarded with the Manager of the Month award for Frank Lampard, a chalice which sadly regularly brings ill fortune to it’s recipient and their team’s good form.
Add to that the 2 clubs opposing fortunes under the much maligned VAR system so far this season and most Chelsea supporters will be heading to the match with a fair amount of trepidation.
But the last 30 minutes against Ajax on Tuesday showed there are huge elements of the manager’s traits coursing through his team. Frank would smile at such omens and then knuckle down to prove them wrong.
And that is precisely the attitude his players will need against The Eagles. Under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson, and with former Blue Gary Cahill in defence, they are proving to be a tough team to beat.
But it is their lack of goals, only 10 in 11 Premier League matches, that should be their Achilles heel at The Bridge. Chelsea meanwhile have been free scoring, admittedly more away from home, but this should be an opportunity for them to improve on 7 home league goals thus far.
Frank will be without Jorginho, who ensured he gained his 5th caution of the season last time out against Watford so that he wouldn’t be suspended for their next league match, away to current champions Manchester City.
However, N’Golo Kante is back available and can readily slot into the void left by the Italian. Mason Mount, who limped off with an ankle injury against Ajax could well be fit enough to retain his place, but Billy Gilmour and a fit again Ross Barkley are available to fill in if the young England international is unable to play.
Frank also has a decision to make at full back. Reece James could well make a start, with Cesar Azpilicueta moving across to the left. Another option will be to recall Emerson Palmieri but the manager does have huge belief in the youngster.
Another change could possibly be a recall for Callum Hudson-Odoi, but Christian Pulisic is on a rich vain of form and Willian has been an inspiration to his younger colleagues.
Andros Townsend and Cheikhou Kouyate could both return to the Palace team along with Gary Cahill. The former Chelsea player won every trophy during his tenure at The Blues and is a true professional. He will receive a well deserved top reception from the home support who appreciated all he did for the club.
After gaining only 1 point from their last 3 league matches, the away side will arrive with some concern with their form.
And that will be what the home team will need to focus on. Surely reaching the level of play they showed in the last half an hour against Ajax will sweep The Eagles away.
A 6th league victory in a row, a lead of at least 6 points in the race for the top 4 will be the perfect way to head into the final international break of the year.
And with a trip to Manchester City coming next, Frank and his side will want to travel to The Etihad on as big a high as possible. Palace won’t make it easy and each of the 3 points will need to be fought for and be richly deserved.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue