Following Liverpool’s 1-1 draw against Arsenal on Saturday, Chelsea have an excellent chance to move into at least second place in the Premier League table after eleven matches. To do so, the Blues would have to do something they’ve surprisingly failed to do in two out of the last three seasons, beat Crystal Palace at home.
Before last season’s 2-1 win at the Bridge, Chelsea had lost two straight against the visiting Eagles, both by a 2-1 scoreline. One of them had mattered not in Chelsea’s eventual title-win, the other one signaled all the bad to things come during the Mourinho Season. So that’s not much of a pattern beyond the obvious: it’s a London derby and Palace should not be underestimated.
Daylight savings ends in America overnight from Saturday to Sunday as well, following the clocks falling back last weekend in Europe. November is here. Winter is coming.
Date / Time: Sunday, November 4, 2018, 16:00 GMT; 11am EST; 9:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Michael Oliver — last time we saw Mr. Oliver, we beat Manchester United in last season’s FA Cup final. This is somewhat of a low profile assignment for the English refereeing’s star-man.
Forecast: A gentle breeze on a cloudy day, the threat of rain in the air.
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); Telemundo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Gold, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India)
Chelsea team news: Chelsea remain unbeaten on the season (15 in a row!) after Wednesday’s messy 3-2 win over Derby County in the League Cup, a stark contrast to last weekend’s comprehensive 4-0 beatdown of Burnley at Turf Moor. While it would easy to chalk up that drop in performance to squad rotation (going from the first-string to the second), the Blues should be showing more quality after three months of intense Sarri-ball training. And so, the stark need for improvement remains.
Sarri will be hoping to have Eden Hazard back for the first time in two weeks and will also hoping that Olivier Giroud is over his “muscle fatigue” so that Álvaro Morata can get a bit of a rest (even though Chelsea’s misfiring record signing at center forward has started finding the back of the net once again). Chelsea have scored 15 goals in their last 5 games, including 10 in the last 3 without Hazard, which does allow Sarri to exercise a bit of patience in ensuring that Eden’s injured back is fully healed before returning.
Crystal Palace team news: Palace are winless in five, collecting just one point (albeit against Arsenal) and getting eliminated from the League Cup. That’s dropped them to within three points of the relegation zone, which isn’t really in line with the talent available, at least on paper, to manager Roy Hodgson. But as long as Wilfried Zaha is available, Palace have a chance against most teams. The Eagles’ talisman has been battling a shoulder injury, but should be fit to play.
Cheikhou Kouyaté and James McArthur are dealing with various knocks as well, while Christian Benteke (knee surgery), Joel Ward (muscle injury), Scott Dann (match fitness), and Connor Wickham (thigh) are all out.
Palace face a run of three matches against Chelsea, Spurs, and Manchester United in the next three matchweeks. They’ll be expected to win zero points from those, which does lift a bit of pressure and could make them dangerous.
Previously: Last year’s 2-1 featured a late consolation from former Chelsea prospect Patrick van Aanholt, who’s set to face his former club for the seventh time.