Chelsea vs Crystal Palace preview: Eagles face trip to the Bridge in their first game of the new era
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace is put under pressure by Mason Mount of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park on April 10, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Justin Tallis - Pool/Getty Images)

Chelsea have long proven to be a challenging team to beat for the Eagles. Last season, both matches between them went in favour of the Champions League winners.

In October, the game finished 4-0 after Palace conceded two penalties in the last 12 minutes of the match at Stamford Bridge.

The last time the two teams met was in April at Selhurst Park, where a Kai Havertz masterclass – one goal and an assist in two minutes – stunned the hosts. The result, a 4-1 victory to Thomas Tuchel’s side.

Throughout both fixtures, Chelsea overwhelmingly dominated possession, which resulted in them securing 16 shots on target compared to one for their opposition.

After his successful spells managing in Ligue 1 and Major League Soccer, Vieira will be seeking to prove himself in the Premier League.

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The Eagles - who for several seasons have been predicted to finish in the bottom three - have undergone a thorough squad turnover.

The expectation of attacking football is on the horizon; an exciting prospect for Palace fans, who will be banking on their team progressing further up the ranks, rather than just sustaining safety from relegation.  

Summer signings and departures

Eight players have departed Selhurst Park over the summer, including former Chelsea captain Gary Cahill, as well as Andros Townsend, who has since joined Everton on a free transfer.

Nevertheless, the mass of players who have headed for the exit has sparked an overhaul for the Eagles, who have subsequently welcomed seven new members to their squad.

Tuchel’s side have also waved goodbye to several players, including Olivier Giroud and Fikayo Tomori, who have both made permanent moves to AC Milan. 

One of the Blues’ departures – Marc Guéhi – secured an £18m move to Crystal Palace back in July. The centre-back who had two impressive loan spells at Swansea could prove pivotal in defence alongside new signing Joachim Andersen.

Ones to watch 

Chelsea - Trevoh Chalobah

Despite the circling transfer rumours, the English defender may have secured his place at Stamford Bridge following several standout performances during pre-season and on Wednesday night against Villarreal as Chelsea won the UEFA Super Cup

The 22-year-old proved that he could pass confidently under pressure and showcased his speed as he raced to protect his team from counterattacks. 

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During his post-match interview, Tuchel said: "He never lost face and stayed calm and was physical enough to play 120 minutes. It was quite impressive. 

"He forced his way into our thinking. Let's see how it goes. We still have some days to decide his personal future but in the moment he shows his value to the team."

Crystal Palace - Wilfried Zaha

The Eagles’ top goal scorer last season with 11 goals and two assists in the 31 games he played.

He’s quick, versatile and will prove vital in the absence of Eze and Olise. The Ivorian shone in the final pre-season friendly against Watford, scoring twice, resulting in a 3-1 win for the south London club.  

Injuries and suspensions

Blues’ captain, Cesar Azpilicueta, has successfully appealed a suspension which would have seen him miss this opening match, following the red card he received at Aston Villa last season.

Hakim Ziyech has been ruled out for Saturday’s clash after suffering a serious shoulder injury against Villarreal this week.

The Moroccan midfielder showcased impressive displays during pre-season friendlies against Tottenham and Arsenal and had finally reaffirmed his capabilities on the pitch following a year of speculation on his form. He will likely be out for some time.

Palace midfielder Eberechi Eze, who scored four goals and assisted six last season, remains injured, having ruptured his Achilles during training in May.

New singing Michael Olise, who has not participated in any of the Eagles’ pre-season games due to a back injury, is unlikely to start against Chelsea. However, reports from The Telegraph suggest that the midfielder will be assessed before the trip to Stamford Bridge.

Match officials 

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

VAR: Graham Scott

How to watch

The kick-off is scheduled for 3pm on Saturday, August 14, 2021.

Unfortunately, this fixture will not be televised. However, you can follow all the latest updates here on VAVEL.

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