Moving on from the disheartening 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad last weekend, Chelsea are anticipating a rebound against Crystal Palace. Roy Hodgson’s 18th place side “should” be ideal opposition as we search for a return to winning ways, even if they have been a bit of a bogey-team in the last few seasons.
For the match-up, there are some good news with regards to injuries. First and foremost, N’Golo Kanté will be back available for selection after his health scare last weekend ahead the City match.
“N’Golo is fine. He trained the whole week. He’s in good form.
“Last week on Friday it was very cold, and after the training session he briefly passed out in the dressing room. After this situation, the doctor gave him many check-ups to understand his physical condition. It was all clear. On Sunday he was well, but at the same time it was right to not take a risk and give him the opportunity to rest. He’s okay. Every check-up has been okay.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Another French midfielder set to return to the fold is Tiemoué Bakayoko. The 23-year-old has been back for several weeks — pretty much since his horrid performance against Watford last month — and been back in training for a week with the team.
And even though it is not usually ideal for a player to be out of contention, Conte sees a silver lining in Bakayoko being sidelined due to injury.
Conte on Bakayoko: "I think if I have to see a positive aspect about his injury, he has had a lot of time to work on the bad performance against Watford. Now he has been training with us for one week. His physical condition is not bad." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 9, 2018
Most importantly, he backs Baka and his “right personality” to push himself into becoming an important player for the club in the future, even if the club are paying the price this season for the lack of experience from some players (e.g. Bakayoko, Christensen).
Conte with an interesting explanation on Baka and Chelsea struggles: "We are paying a bit about the lack of experience for many players. But Baka has the right personality to become an important player for Chelsea. I hope in the present but for sure in the future." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 9, 2018
However, defender David Luiz and midfielder Ross Barkley remain injured. The former with knee and ankle injuries, and the latter with a hamstring issue.
Conte on injuries: "David Luiz is injured and also Barkley. Then I have to check a couple of situations to take a decision for tomorrow's game" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 9, 2018
Considering the difficulty of a game versus Palace at Stamford Bridge compared to our opponents right after them in Barcelona at Camp Nou, Conte might fiddle with some rotation and tests. Loads of options to pick as our medical department begins to clear up.
Conte on false 9 or Giroud/Morata: "Tomorrow, for sure we have this option to play with Giroud or Morata as a number 9. It is an important game and we want to try to get three points. We will see tomorrow which is my final decision" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 9, 2018
Conte says he trusts both Morata and Giroud: "Morata is coming from a strange injury in his back. He was out for a long time. Giroud is working very well, everyday, he is in good physical condition, for sure, I trust a lot in all my players" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 9, 2018
Conte on midfielders: "I have four midfielders. I have to trust and I must trust in my players. I have to continue to insist that with these players." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 9, 2018
But as long as he picks up a winning line-up, the complaints that were thrown onto his back throughout the week after the City defeat will be nearly zero.
Conte on his tactical approach being criticised: "I think this is part of our jobs, sometimes the critics are constructive, sometimes they are rubbish. We must have respect for other people's job but at the end pundits are pundits and managers are managers" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 9, 2018