Arsenal’s battering at the hands of Liverpool last night means Chelsea are safe in the Top 4 as of now. In fact, they can even move within 1 point of 3rd place if Manchester City’s woeful form continues away at Southampton.
The Blues face a Crystal Palace side renowned as much for their inconsistency as capable of causing upsets against teams fighting for silverware. Roy Hodgson has issues in attack but will hope the likes of Zaha and Townsend come up with the goods in their last match of the calendar year. Palace have won 3 matches since October with all 3 coming this month which shows the turnaround they have had.
Chelsea have struggled to find consistency after their 18-match unbeaten streak came to an end and Sarri will be desperate to end the year on a high as he looks forward to the new year and the opening of the transfer window.
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS
Alvaro Morata is fit again and might come straight back into the lineup. Pedro has been ruled out for 10 days and Callum Hudson-Odoi is also out with a hamstring issue. Andreas Christensen (hamstring) and Victor Moses (knock) are also unlikely to feature.
PREDICTED CHELSEA LINEUP TO FACE CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3)
Kepa Arrizabalaga will continue in goal. He has been impressive and should only get better as the season progresses.
We expect Cesar Azpilicueta to start at right-back. The Spaniard hasn’t been his usual unflappable self and Sarri will hope for an improvement heading into the second half of the season. On the opposite flank, Marcos Alonso should get another start with his attacking flair keeping him ahead of the other alternatives in the pecking order.
Christensen’s likely unavailability means another start for the duo of David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger.
Jorginho is likely to be deployed at the base of the midfield once again. Sarri has Fabregas if he wants to rest the new signing but we don’t see it happening today.
Kovacic has played the last 4 but hasn’t been at his best lately. A start for Ross Barkley is in order. The Englishman has slowly settled in as the season has progressed but needs to grab the opportunity now if he is given one. N’Golo Kante should complete the midfield trio.
The injury to Pedro is likely to see Eden Hazard finally shift back to his natural position on the left flank. Sarri has been vocal regarding the positives of the Belgian playing as the false 9 but with Morata and Giroud available, it will make more sense to play a target man up front.
Willian should line up on the right with Olivier Giroud possibly ahead of Morata in the pecking order for the lone striker’s position.