The third and final match of this hectic week will see Chelsea travel the short distance across the river to take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. We once again have the early kickoff, meaning that not even 72 hours will have passed between the final whistle in Sunderland and the start of the game tomorrow.
Despite that time crunch, it would appear that Chelsea will try to navigate the gauntlet with a largely unchanged lineup. Certainly the back six, the goalkeeper, and the center forward will remain unchanged, if for no other reason than having no viable backups for most of those positions (except for Batshuayi at center forward, if he's still around).
That leaves three positions unaccounted for, two of which already saw changes this week. Nemanja Matić started next to Kanté on Sunday but it was Fàbregas who started on Wednesday. While Conte did talk about using these two players in a smart, situational rotation, regardless of the situation for Saturday, the fresher legs of Matić will most likely win out. Fàbregas as a late-game option off the bench, should he be needed, is not a bad plan either.
Up front, Willian got a rare start instead of Eden Hazard on Wednesday due to the latter failing to recover from the knee injury he picked up last Sunday. According to multiple reports, Hazard should be back for this one, so he should take his usual position on the left. For me, it's a toss-up between Willian and Pedro on the right — the former did have more of an impact in Chelsea's last game, so perhaps he'll get a go again. Or maybe Conte will stick to the familiar front three that has done so well during this ten-match winning streak.
Taking the easy way out for this final spot, we get the usual suspects out there as we try for win number eleven ahead of a weeklong break for Christmas.
Courtois | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Matić, Kanté, Moses | Hazard, Costa, Pedro/Willian
I was hoping the community's preferences would help us in making a choice between Pedro and Willian, but there are literally two (2) votes separating them as I type, 594 to 596. Meanwhile, Cesc just edges Matić out by a couple percentage points.
Courtois (99%) | Cahill (87%), David Luiz (88%), Azpilicueta (97%) | Alonso (94%), Fàbregas (57%), Kanté (88%), Moses (93%) | Hazard (63%), Costa (91%), Pedro/Willian (60%)