You might be forgiven for thinking that Chelsea’s Premier League season is over. After all, this Saturday’s game is the only one on our schedule from late January to early March — a run of seven games — and it’s not like we can win the title. And unless we royally [FUN] up, the top-four is fairly secure as well.
But as it turns out, we still have a third of the season left to go, and while we’ve remained comfortably in third despite not playing, we cannot just rely on other teams behind us dropping points. A win against Palace would be academic in the title race, but would keep us well ahead of the likes of West Ham, Arsenal, Manchester United, Wolves, and Spurs. That lot can fight it out for fourth, we’d do well to steer clear of that quagmire.
Date / Time: Saturday, February 19, 2022, 15.00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Selhurst Park, London, England
Referee: David Coote (on pitch); Michael Oliver (VAR)
Forecast: cool rain, which is not cool
On TV: none (UK); USA, Universo (USA); none (India); SuperSport Variety 2 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: none (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar VIP (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Crystal Palace team news: Palace, currently 13th, have fewer defeats than any other team in the bottom half of the table (8) — and just 3 in their last 9 — but their propensity for draws (only Brighton have more than their 11) has restricted their ambitions to just a midtable finish.
Still, they’ve steered largely clear of the relegation battle, and certainly have it in them to make things annoying for visiting teams at Selhurst Park. In fact, they had lost only one league game at home all season before their current run of back-to-back defeats to West Ham and Liverpool.
Other than Chelsea loanee (and key player and leading goalscorer) Conor Gallagher being ineligible for this game as per Premier League rules, head coach Patrick Vieira will have his full squad to choose from — a squad that remains effectively unchanged after a quiet January transfer window.
Chelsea team news: Ben Chilwell and Reece James remain out, and are joined by Mason Mount — though the latter two are expected back in training next week. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has overcome his previous mystery injury (apparently some Achilles pain but not related to his major surgery, or so claimed Thomas Tuchel) and could be set to feature.
UPDATE: Looks like Timo Werner and César Azpilicueta are now doubtful as well, with illness and injury, respectively.
We have another big week ahead of us, with the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 against Lille midweek and then the League Cup final against Liverpool next weekend coming up, but we must not overlook this game.
Previously: Chelsea have won eight (8!) in a row against Palace, since losing at Selhurst Park, 2-1, back in October 2017. The reverse fixture earlier this year saw us run out 3-0 victors on opening day, with Trevoh Chalobah adding the cherry on top with a great goal. Marcos Alonso and Christian Pulisic also scored.