It’s been almost exactly four years to the date since the last time I got to witness a Chelsea match at Stamford Bridge in person. That’s really just about four years too long, but that doesn’t matter because now I’m here. (Will be at the White Horse for pre-match, if plans hold, so come on out and say hi.)
Four years ago, I got to see an Eden Hazard wondergoal and Frankie Lampard scoring goal number 200 in his Chelsea career. What wonders shall await us this time around? Another top performance from Eden would certainly not go amiss and while the famous no.8 shirt is currently vacant, the midfield is currently ruled by a no.7 and I’m quite excited to watch the master at work on what’s sure to be a fine, if perhaps a bit rainy afternoon.
There’s no time to fool about: the final stretch of the 2016-17 Premier League season begins today. Let’s start it with all three points! COME ON, CHELSEA!
Date / Time: Saturday, April 1, 15:00 BST; 10am EDT; 7:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Craig Pawson
Forecast: Overcast with a drizzle or three.
On TV: none (UK); NBCSN, NBC Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (USA); BBC Radio 5 Live (UK; radio only); Chelsea TV (int’l; radio only)
Chelsea team news: The squad were meant to get fully healthy over the international break, yet we’re possibly worse off now than two weeks ago. Eden Hazard should be back, but Victor Moses might be out and Diego Costa could be rested to ensure he’s good to go for Wednesday night’s match against Manchester City instead. Everyone else should be fit and ready to go.
With ten games left, Chelsea have a seemingly insurmountable ten point lead at the top of the Premier League. But nothing’s guaranteed and nothing’s given; everything has to be earned. We must continue to pay great attention and keep doing all the good things and habits that Conte has instilled into the players this season.
The title run-in starts right here, right now.
Crystal Palace team news: Palace are riding a three-match winning streak under new manager Sam “out-tactic-ing” Allardyce, but they’re still just four points above relegation and will not doubt continue to fight tooth and nail for Premier League survival. To expect anything other than staunch rearguard action from the visitors would be folly, but the Blues have proven capable of breaking down such efforts before and should be confident of doing so again.
Former Chelsea trainee Patrick van Aanholt is out with an ankle injury, but all other key players (such as Benteke, Cabaye, and Zaha, all three of whom have the capacity to win games by themselves) should be available. For more on the Eagles, be sure to read Rob’s opposition analysis.
Previously: Last time out, 1-0 to the good guys in the fog thanks to a Diego Costa header(!). Chelsea dominated but had to settle for the narrow win with Alonso rattling the crossbar in the second half.