Chelsea host Crystal Palace on Saturday as they look to build on their first win of the season last weekend. The Blues ended a poor start with a win at West Brom, but they’ll want an improvement on that performance. This fixture last season was the one in which the Premier League title was clinched, so hopefully that memory will inspire them to put on a decent show here.
The big blow ahead of this game is the suspension of John Terry, after the captain was sent off at West Brom. After the debate around his future, the last thing he wants to be doing now is missing games. Gary Cahill came on to fill the void Terry left on Sunday, and he’s likely to do that again here, starting alongside Kurt Zouma.
With Terry out, Branislav Ivanovic will likely take the armband, despite his poor season so far. That would mean there’d be no place for new signing Adbul Baba Rahman, who might well have to settle for a place on the bench.
Oscar could be set for a return, which would give Jose Mourinho some selection issues, after he started with Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard last week. You’d expect Willian to make way for his compatriot, which would give us an incredibly creative midfield threat.
Mourinho will be looking for his side to reproduce their performance from the first 45 minutes against WBA. They took the Baggies by storm, but they eased off in the second half when they had 10 men. Hopefully that win marks the start of a title chase, as Manchester City have already taken a strong lead at the top. The Blues can’t afford to fall any further behind.
As for Palace, they won last week at home to Aston Villa, and Alan Pardew looks to have made some good signings for the club. They are on course for a strong season, but it’s hard to see them being able to pull off a result here. They are more than capable going forward, so that should be a tough test for the back five.
The Chelsea defence has been far below par this term, and the prospect of Ivanovic taking on their flying wingers is a worrying one. The full backs won’t get much help from the two wingers, so they’re pretty much on their own. It will be interesting to see just how much Terry is missed. He may be struggling for pace, but his organisational skills seem vital. Without that, it’s easy to see the backline getting caught out.
Despite that, we should see a performance good enough to pick up another three points. The team aren’t quite up to fitness yet, but they’re getting there. The quality is now starting to shine through, and with Pedro and Hazard bombing down each wing, they should have too much for Palace.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1