After a week away in the warmth of Abu Dhabi, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea return to Premier League action in very contrasting conditions with the UK hit with Storm Eunice. They travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Reece James and Ben Chilwell are still missing for the Blues, with Tuchel confirming in his press conference on Friday that Mason Mount will also miss out on the short trip to South London.
“We will push for the League Cup final. He [Mount] injured his ligaments in the very first minutes of the Club World Cup final unfortunately”, said Tuchel.
As for James, the German confirmed he is continuing to make steady progress in his comeback from a longer-term muscle injury.
On the bright side for the world champions, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is fit and available for this weekend’s fixture. The Cobham graduate missed the trip to the Middle East last week with an Achilles injury.
For the hosts, Cheikhou Kouyate is back for selection after helping Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory just under two weeks ago. Summer signing Will Hughes and James McArthur are also available.
Viera provided an update in his Friday press conference saying: “McArthur is getting physically much better and has been training all week with the team.”
Conor Gallagher, however, won’t be able to play a part against his parent club for the clash.
“We knew the rules before signing Conor so it is no surprise he will not get involved and in the games against Chelsea. We have tried a different system and different players and still have a reflection to make on who will replace him”, said Viera.
Crystal Palace: Butland; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Kouyate, Hughes, Schlupp; Olise, Edouard, Zaha
Chelsea: Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Lukaku, Havertz
Ones to watch
The 20-year-old has been influential recently for Patrick Viera’s side. Olise has contributed to seven goals in his last seven appearances for Palace, playing a big part in both of their previous two FA Cup games.
In just his first season in the topflight, the former Reading man has two goals and four assists in the Premier League, featuring 17 times and he will be hoping to add to his tally on Saturday.
As for the visitors, last weekend’s star Kai Havertz could be the one to watch for Chelsea. After a rocky first opening season in the Premier League, Havertz has shown in recent games that he has the ability to go and become something special, but consistency has been a major issue for the German.
In Friday’s press conference, regarding Havertz, Tuchel said: “We can see a lot of intensity and physicality in his game. He has already stepped up from the beginning of this season in training and when he plays. He is tougher to play against, more physical and is more involved. He relies more on his strengths, which is his body and runs without the ball.
“There is still space to develop because he is also still young, but he has now stepped up twice in big matches and crucial moments, which can only be good for his development.”
The previous clashes between both sides make for tough reading for the Eagles. Chelsea have won the previous eight meetings whether they have been played at Selhurst Park or Stamford Bridge.
Palace’s last win against the European champions came in October 2017, with an own goal from Cesar Azpilicueta and a 45th minute winner from Wilfried Zaha giving Roy Hodgson’s side all three points on the day.
Where to watch on TV
For all UK viewers, the game will not be televised as it has been chosen as one of the games part of the long-standing 3pm blackout in England.