Chelsea returns to Premier League action on Saturday 19th February with a London derby against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Chelsea will be playing their first league game in over a month, but they will be up against a Crystal Palace team that has gone winless in the Premier League so far this calendar year.
Although the Club World Cup has its critics, try telling that to Thomas Tuchel and his squad when they returned triumphantly from Abu Dhabi.
In the final against Palmeiras on Saturday, Kai Havertz, who scored the winning goal in the club’s Champions League final last season, earned another title for the club with a penalty late in extra time, capping off a 2-1 victory.
The Blues have already won two trophies this season, and they may still win three more if they win the EFL Cup final against Liverpool at the end of this month, go to the last-16 of the Champions League against Lille, and win the Premier League, which is still theoretically possible.
At the very least, the triumph of the Club World Cup should provide a boost to the latter campaign, but it may be too little, too late with Chelsea already 16 points behind champions Manchester City, despite having a game in hand.
Chelsea is comfortably ensconced in third place, six points ahead of West Ham United, who have a game in hand, thanks to the poor record of the teams in front of them. This is despite the Blues having failed to win back-to-back league games since October.
With a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in their last Premier League encounter on January 23, Tuchel’s side has a chance to achieve exactly that this weekend. They previously required extra time to defeat League One Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup before going on to win the Club World Cup.
That win against Tottenham was their first in five league games and just their third in ten since December 1, a stretch that included a 1-0 loss to West Ham in their most recent away London derby. They have now won just three of their previous ten games overall.
Chelsea faces the danger of losing back-to-back top-flight London derbies on the road for the first time since December 2017, when they were defeated by Crystal Palace and West Ham in quick succession. Chelsea has won their previous seven such matches before that.
In their previous 16 Premier League London derbies, the Eagles have only managed to claim one victory, and they are in desperate need of a victory going into Saturday’s meeting.
In the first half of the calendar year, Patrick Vieira’s team has dropped to 13th place in the league, having collected only three points from the 15 available.
Palace is still nine points clear of the relegation zone, so they will not be looking fearfully over their shoulders just yet. However, the improved form of many of the teams in front of them has heightened the pressure for them to find a way back 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 given them much reason to be optimistic about their chances of finishing in the top half of the table, although their match against Chelsea on Saturday may give them more reason to be optimistic.
Vieira’s side has already defeated Tottenham and Manchester City this season, and two of their five victories this season have come against clubs who started the day in the top four.
If they win on Saturday, they would become the first side in history to win three games against top-four opponents in a single Premier League season, even though they have lost both of their home games in the competition so far this season.
It hasn’t happened since July 2020 that Palace has lost three consecutive Premier League home games, and it would take an extraordinary turn of fortune for them to escape that fate this weekend.
CRY vs CHE, EPL 2021/22
Date: 19th February 2022
Time: 8:0 PM IST
Venue: Selhurst Park Stadium
Crystal Palace Premier League form:
Crystal Palace form (all competitions):
Chelsea Premier League form:
Chelsea form (all competitions):
Crystal Palace wins: 12
Chelsea wins: 32
Because of the rules of his loan agreement, Conor Gallagher will be unable to play, which means James McArthur might feature in the starting XI after coming off the bench against Brentford.
Nathan Ferguson, on the other hand, is facing another absence from the field after his recent hamstring injury.
Mason Mount will miss the match for Chelsea due to an ankle injury sustained during the Club World Cup final. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel will provide further information on the makeup of his team at his pre-match press conference.
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
Chelsea’s performance at the moment is difficult to assess. Despite being a consistently successful cup club, a League match away against a team that is unlikely to sit back and let them have the ball seems like precisely the kind of game they have struggled with of late for them. So, expect a 1-1 draw.
Predicted Score- CRY 1-3 CHE