It will be a crunch tie at the Selhurst Park as Chelsea take on Crystal Palace on Sunday. The Blues are on the path to recovery after a disappointing start to the season under Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese was relieved of his duties earlier last month with Guus Hiddink appointed to replace him in interim capacity.
Hiddink chases his first three points down to Selhurst Park after overseeing a 2-2 draw against Watford and a goalless stalemate against Manchester United. Sunday’s encounter will prove to be very tough for the Blues with Crystal Palace not tasting defeat in their last five matches and boasts of an excellent defence line so far.
The defending champions were not at their best elements at Old Trafford and needed a tiny stroke of luck to come away with a point. Hiddink must now be calculated how to tweak his team in order to get a better result out of them. Good news for him though as striker, Diego Costa is back from a one-match suspension (following a fifth booking so far in the season) and is available for selection. Of course, he is expected to lead the Chelsea attack considering his brace against Watford.
So, he is how we expect Chelsea’s line up to look like on Sunday, assuming a 4-2-1-2-1 formation.
Goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois should be between the sticks, no doubts. His world-class, acrobatic saves kept Chelsea in the game against Manchester United and ultimately earned them a point. For his troubles, he retains his number spot. In defence, Kurt Zouma and John Terry will be hoping to improve on their partnership at centre back.
The former was quite impressive against Manchester United keeping Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial at bay in the game. Terry is finding his form again this season and is expected to start for the Blues. In addition, full backs, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta will need to be on top of their game for Chelsea if the club must stand any chance of wrapping up the first three points for Hiddink. Ivanovic, in particular has always looked far too vulnerable in defence this season requiring help from Zouma.
In midfield, Nemanja Matic pairs John Obi Mikel in the central midfield position. Mikel can look forward to a starting berth in place of the out-of-form Cesc Fabregas, more so as Chelsea will be seeking to tidy up their defence. Matic, on the other hand, looks hapless and out of sorts in what could be termed a ‘nightmarish experience’ for the Serb against Watford and Manchester United. Pedro willing also be relishing a chance to go against a Crystal Palace that has been rock solid at the back.
Willian and Hazard are expected to put up a great performance on the flanks and provide support to Diego Costa in attack. Willian remains Chelsea’s standout player of the campaign and will be hoping to build on that performance. Hazard was quite brilliant against Manchester United with his skills, dribbles, and pace. Costa, just fresh from suspension will have a filled day slugging it out with Scott Dann who has enjoyed a wonderful season so far.
In summary, this is Chelsea on Sunday against Crystal Palace:
Thibaut Courtois –
Branislav Ivanovic, Kurt Zouma, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta –
Nemanja Matic, Mikel Obi, Pedro –
Willian, Eden Hazard, Diego Costa.