Chelsea are set to make the short journey down to Croydon when they meet Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday and will look to end the year 2018 on a high. The Eagles have been in good form of late after winning 2 of their last 3 games, including an impressive 3-2 victory away to Manchester City, and should therefore not be underestimated. It will be interesting to see whether or not Maurizio Sarri resorts to rotation here as fatigue may otherwise creep in and prove costly for Chelsea.
As always, Arrizabalaga will start in goal and put in a good performance as he always does. Maybe cut out the misplaced passes this time, Kepa!
We didn’t get an actual update on Andreas Christensen’s condition from Maurizio Sarri but it seems the Dane will be still sitting this one out. As a result, it wouldn’t be overly surprising if the Chelsea coach continues with his trusted back line of Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Antonio Rüdiger and Cesar Azpilicueta. There is a slight chance that Emerson’s short substitute cameo against Watford foreshadowed him rotating into the side for this one but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Despite playing twice already in the past week, I do believe Sarri will keep on using the trio of Mateo Kovačić, Jorginho and N’golo Kanté in the middle of the park as they have shown to be a competent and dynamic composition. It wouldn’t surprise me however if Ross Barkley is given his first start since playing Crystal Palace back in November and Kovačić gets a well earned rest.
As Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi both picked up hamstring injuries against Watford, my money’s on Ruben Loftus-Cheek moving up the field after having proven to be a worthy makeshift winger. I can’t see Olivier Giroud starting as Maurizio Sarri seems intent on continuing the Eden Hazard as false nine experiment and thus Willian will most probably take up his favoured position on the left wing.
Arrizabalaga | Alonso, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Kovačić, Jorginho, Kanté | Willian, Hazard, Loftus-Cheek
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community’s preferred lineup has one surprise in store this time as Emerson is favoured to Alonso (46%) by the narrowest of margins while the other fringe players aren’t able to come anywhere near the regulars. The rest of the team picks itself as Kovačić and Jorginho beat out Barkley (35%) and Fabregas (20%), respectively, while Loftus-Cheek is moved up to the right wing and thus forces both Morata (23%) and Giroud (41%) to start the game on the bench.
Arrizabalaga (99%) | Emerson (54%), David Luiz (92%), Rüdiger (98%), Azpilicueta (97%) | Kovačić (52%), Jorginho (77%), Kanté (97%) | Loftus-Cheek (70%), Hazard (99%), Willian (80%)
Due to the mentioned injuries up front, the attacking band of my preferred lineup mirrors the predicted one as Hazard in the false nine position is currently the right move for the team (sorry, Olivier). Otherwise, I went with the same starting eleven with — once again — the only exception being Emerson for Alonso. The Italian will be my preferred choice until he gets an opportunity to prove himself as the benefits by far outweigh the risks at this point.
Arrizabalaga | Emerson, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Kovačić, Jorginho, Kanté | Willian, Hazard, Loftus-Cheek
COME ON YOU BLUES!!!