In-form Chelsea host a Crystal Palace side whose early flourish has faded in recent matches in the Premier League.
Group EPL Stamford Bridge, Fulham, England
Key Stat: Chelsea have now won their last five Premier League matches in a row.
Expert Verdict: Frank Lampard's young Chelsea team have built some serious momentum in the Premier League now and will have been buoyed by their late comeback against Ajax in their sensational Champions League draw too. With that sort of form behind them, they will expect to beat Palace at home.
Jorginho is suspended after picking up five yellow cards so N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic could partner each other in midfield. Mason Mount suffered an ankle injury in mid-week, which could pave the way for Callum Hudson-Odoi to start. Ross Barkley is also looking to overcome an ankle injury but Antonio Rudiger is definitely out with a pelvic problem.
Christian Pulisic – A ‘perfect’ hat-trick against Burnley followed by what proved to be the match-winning goal against Watford have put a frustrating start to the season firmly behind him.
Tammy Abraham – Opened the scoring with his ninth league goal of the campaign last weekend to continue a fine season up front.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – Mason Mount’s injury hands an opportunity to another of Chelsea’s golden generation of youth graduates, who has battled hard to overcome injury and caught the eye this season already.
Chelsea have won their last five league matches in a row, with their only recent defeat coming in the Carabao Cup at home to Manchester United. Since then, goals from Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic earned victory away to Watford before a thrilling comeback against nine-man Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday. Jorginho’s early penalty made it 1-1 but Ajax stormed into a 4-1 lead, before Cesar Azpilicueta hit back, two Ajax players were sent off, Jorginho scored another penalty and Reece James levelled the tie.
Defenders:Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James
Defensive Midfielders:N Golo Kante, Matteo Kovacic
Attacking Midfielders:Willian, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi
Andros Townsend was out last weekend after a muscle strain suffered against Arsenal, but Roy Hodgson did not expect either Cheikh Kouyate or Gary Cahill to require long-term treatment for their respective head injuries they picked up last weekend. James McArthur (back) is a more serious doubt, while Mamadou Sakho and Connor Wickham are out too. McArthur and Townsend’s absences could pave the way for either Max Meyer or James McCarthy to start.
Jordan Ayew – His equaliser against Arsenal continued his run of important goals this season. He now has four in the Premier League.
Luka Milivojevic – Scored a penalty against Arsenal and his set pieces have contributed plenty of goals in recent seasons; his tenacity, meanwhile, makes him a key player in the middle.
Wilfried Zaha – A subdued season so far does not hide the fact he remains an important player for Crystal Palace. If he starts scoring again, goals and assists could flow.
A tricky run of fixtures against Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester City has halted Crystal Palace’s momentum. They lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City and Leicester, but they did take a point away to Arsenal when Luka Milivojevic and Jordan Ayew scored to help them come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2.
Defenders:Joel Ward, James Tomkins, Gary Cahill, Patrick van Aanholt
Midfielders:James McCarthy, Cheikh Kouyate, Luka Milivojevic, Jeffrey Schlupp
Forwards:Jordan Ayew, Wilfried Zaha
Chelsea have won exactly half of their 54 previous meetings with Crystal Palace, whereas Palace have won 12 with 15 draws. That includes Chelsea’s two wins last season – 3-1 at home and 1-0 away – under Maurizio Sarri. Alvaro Morata scored either side of Andros Townsend’s equaliser in the first meeting, before Pedro sealed Chelsea’s win, while N’Golo Kante scored the only goal of their most recent match.
Here are the results of their last five competitive matches:
Dec 30, 2018: Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea
Nov 04, 2018: Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace
Mar 10, 2018: Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace
Oct 14, 2017: Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea
Apr 01, 2017: Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace
Chelsea have well and truly got the ball rolling in the Premier League now, their young side is growing quickly and their thrilling 4-4 draw with Ajax in the Champions League will spur them too.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, started the season really well but tricky fixtures against Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester City have proved their undoing.
Defeats at home to the former and the latter sandwich a comeback draw against the Gunners – the only positive result for Palace in that run.
Chelsea is the fourth part of that sequence and Palace are not expected to get anything from that game either.
The Blues have been in fine attacking form, and Christian Pulisic hitting top gear just adds to a wealth of young attacking options at their disposal.
Tammy Abraham is banging goals in, and bagging assists when he is not scoring, Pulisic is now in top form and Mason Mount’s injury just provides and opportunity for Callum Hudson-Odoi.
These are exciting times for the Blues’ next generation and this is a great opportunity to continue their excellent form.
Chelsea are in great form in the league and start this match as comfortable favourites to win, with Bet365, Ladbrokes, Betfair and Betway all offering 1/3 on a Chelsea victory.
Palace have failed to score in their two recent defeats to Manchester City and Leicester City, and you can bet against both teams to score at evens with Betfair.
Tammy Abraham is in fine goalscoring form, however, and the Chelsea striker is 8/11 to score at any time with Bet365, Betfair and Paddy Power.
Christian Pulisic has hit form too, and the American can be backed at 21/10 to score at any time with Betfair and Paddy Power.
Chelsea’s recent form has been excellent, whereas Palace have hit the buffers against the top teams – a category this young Chelsea team firmly belongs in.