After three months of no football, it’s slightly overwhelming to have Chelsea on our TV screens every three days, but here we go again.
It’s the last London derby of the Premier League season for Chelsea as we travel across the river to Crystal Palace to say hi to Gary Cahill and hopefully leave with all three points, which will be needed to keep pace with rampant Manchester United (2 points behind) and keep the pressure on Leicester City (1 point ahead).
Given that three of Chelsea’s last four games are against top-six opposition (Sheffield United away, Liverpool away, Wolves at home), these are three points we cannot afford to not have.
Yes, it’s another must-win.
Date / Time: Tuesday, July 7, 18.00 BST; 1pm EDT; 10:30pm IST
Venue: Selhurst Park, London, England
Referee: David Coote (on pitch); Peter Bankes (VAR) — who are these people??
Forecast: Breezy, cool, rain potentially incoming
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport 1, SuperSport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Crystal Palace team news: Palace are secure in lower-midtable and look set for a seventh straight season of finishing between 10th and 15th. They’ve managed to do so without too much drama, and were flirting with the top half of the table and even the European spots at one point early on. Just one win from December to February put a stop to such ambitions, while a recent three-match slide has just about confirmed the anonymous finish yet easy survival for another year in the top flight.
With little to play for, the Eagles could prove easy pickings for Chelsea, though former Blues captain Gary Cahill will surely want to get one over his old teammates while Roy Hodgson, in charge for almost three years now, will want to avoid Chelsea doing the double over Palace.
Utility-man Jeffrey Schlupp and center back James Tomkins are out, while full back Martin Kelly could return after a recent injury.
Chelsea team news: The big news for the Blues is that N’Golo Kanté is once again injured, as the hamstring gods are cruel and spiteful and don’t take too kindly to having him play every minute of every game since the Restart.
Mateo Kovačić is also out, which leaves the big question of who will play at the base of the midfield, Jorginho or Billy Gilmour? Just the fact that this question even exists underlines not only Gilmour’s ascendancy this season (recent sub-par showings aside) but Jorginho’s questionable future. All eyes on Lampard’s selection then.
Fikayo Tomori remains out as well, but Callum Hudson-Odoi’s back in action and Ruben Loftus-Cheek is starting to find his feet. Chelsea’s depth could pay great dividends in this busy run-in, provided Lampard makes good use of our numbers (which he hasn’t really yet).
Previously: Reece James made his first Premier League start as Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners. Captain America got one, his first at the Bridge, and so did Tammy, who could certainly use a goal these days.