Chelsea host Crystal Palace on Wednesday in a meeting between two Premier League sides struggling for form.
Mauricio Pochettino was left lamenting another desperately wasteful display as Chelsea slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Christmas Eve. It was the club’s 19th league loss of the calendar year, a tally no other side in the division can top.
Roy Hodgson may have insisted that he doesn’t feel the pressure but Palace’s seven-game winless sequence cannot have been easy to swallow.
Here’s everything you need to know about this midweek matchup.
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace H2H Record (Last Five Games)
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Injuries have limited Pochettino’s scope for team selection all season but now the Argentine has to juggle a glut of suspensions.
Two key figures in the form of Cole Palmer and Raheem Sterling will both miss Palace’s visit after accruing their fifth yellow cards of the season against Wolves.
Chelsea’s squad has been without long-term absentees Carney Chukwuemeka (knee), Trevoh Chalobah (thigh) and Wesley Fofana (knee) since the start of the season. Club captain Reece James has had surgery on his problematic hamstrings, keeping him out until at least March. Marc Cucurella’s ankle injury could also rule the left-back out until spring.
Ben Chilwell and Robert Sanchez won’t be available until January while Enzo Fernandez is a significant doubt with a hernia. Fellow midfielder Moises Caicedo could be back from illness by Wednesday and may be needed after Lesley Ugochukwu limped off against Wolves.
Chelsea predicted lineup vs Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Badiashile, Colwill; Caicedo, Gallagher; Madueke, Jackson, Mudryk; Broja.
Much like Chelsea, Palace are without their first-choice goalkeeper after Sam Johnstone injured his leg in defeat to Liverpool. Former Manchester United shot-stopper Dean Henderson is an able deputy.
Rob Holding has joined Cheick Doucoure and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi in the treatment room throughout December with an ankle issue but could be back for the new year.
Joel Ward, however, sustained a thigh problem earlier this month that will rule him out “for a while” according to Hodgson. Odsonne Edouard is also a doubt with a knee issue that has forced Palace’s top scorer to miss their last two league outings.
Crystal Palace predicted lineup vs Chelsea (4-3-3): Henderson; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Hughes, Richards, Lerma; Olise, Mateta, Ayew.
Palace have been waiting for a win in the Premier League since the first weekend of November but their drought against Chelsea stretches all the way back to 2017. The Blues have won their last 12 matches against Palace across all competitions. Antonio Conte was in the dugout for their most recent defeat in this fixture.
While the loss of Palmer and Sterling is a considerable blow, Palace scarcely boast a menacing frontline and may be without their own top scorer. Only relegation-threatened Sheffield United have scored fewer league goals than Hodgson’s toothless Eagles this season.
In what may not be a contest for the purists, Chelsea are favourites to extend their winning streak against Palace.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace
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