Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from their midweek Carabao Cup exit with a positive result against Crystal Palace this weekend.
Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s clash at Stamford Bridge:
How have they started the season?
After summer of heavy investment and high-quality acquisitions, the Blues start to the season hasn’t exactly gone according to plan after picking up just four points out of a possible nine in the league, as well as suffering a penalty shootout defeat to Tottenham on Tuesday evening.
The season began well with a 3-1 victory over Brighton, yet a defeat to Liverpool and a damaging 3-3 draw with newly-promoted West Brom has perhaps curtailed any real hopes of a Chelsea title challenge, the latter result in particular laying bare the club’s continued struggles defensively despite the signature of the experienced Thiago Silva.
One factor that has no doubt affected their early-season progress has been the problems in the goalkeeping department, as Kepa Arrizabalaga continues to make his £71m fee look remarkable for all the wrong reasons. Frank Lampard will hope to have resolved the issue, however, with the signing of Edouard Mendy from Rennes, the Senegal international in line for his first Premier League start having impressed on debut in midweek.
Frank Lampard is also likely to hand Ben Chilwell his first league start after Marcos Alonso’s struggles at the Hawthorns, while Christian Pulisic is set to be in the squad for the game though Hakim Ziyech is still out.
🗣 "He'll go on to play many games more important, he's supported by everybody at the club and we all move on"
Frank Lampard backs Mason Mount after his penalty miss against Tottenham pic.twitter.com/Z2s9UeDhY5
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 2, 2020
Having failed to win in their last eight Premier League fixtures of the 2019/20 season there was undoubtedly little optimism among the Palace faithful ahead of the new campaign, yet those doubts have largely put to bed after an impressive start to the term.
Roy Hodgson’s men gained a well-earned victory over a much-fancied Southampton on the opening day, before a Wilfried Zaha inspired display saw the Eagles dismantle Manchester United at Old Trafford. Palace did suffer defeat against high-flying Everton last weekend, yet they were rightly aggrieved as the visitors went ahead courtesy of a ridiculously harsh penalty decision, defender Joel Ward penalised for handball despite seemingly making no intent to handle the ball.
Hodgson and co will be hoping for better luck at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as they come up against an expensively assembled and exciting forward line that is just waiting to click into gear, although Palace have already proved they are an incredibly difficult side to break down.
As for team news, the former England boss has a long list of absentees, including defenders Gary Cahill, James Tomkins and summer signing Nathan Ferguson, yet midfielder Jeffrey Schlupp should be fit having recovered from a muscle strain that kept him out of the clash with the Toffees last weekend.
Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea, 7 July 2020
The two sides conjured up a five-goal thriller in their last meeting, Frank Lampard’s in-form side racing into an early two goal lead courtesy of goals from Olivier Giroud and USA international Christian Pulisic, the wideman in superb form post-lockdown.
The hosts reduced the deficit on 34 minutes with a thunderous effort from Wilfried Zaha, the former Manchester United man in acres of space in the Chelsea half before unleashing a strike that sailed into the top corner.
Tammy Abraham restored Chelsea’s two goal advantage with less than 20 minutes to go, yet Palace hit back almost instantly, forward Christian Benteke grabbing a rare goal from close range.
With the game finely poised Palace thought they’d secured an equaliser, Scott Dann seeing his headed effort agonisingly tipped onto the post by Blues stopper Kepa in stoppage time to earn Chelsea all three points.
Chelsea: Mendy; James, Silva, Zouma, Chilwell; Kovacic, Kante; Mount, Havertz; Abraham, Werner.
Crystal Palace: Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Sakho, Mitchell; Townsend, McCarthy, McArthur, Schlupp; Ayew, Zaha.
Who is the referee?
How can I watch?
UK and Irish readers can watch on BT Sport 1.
What time is kick off?