Preview: Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace – prediction, team news, lineups

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Fresh from winning the UEFA Super Cup, Chelsea will begin their 2021-22 Premier League campaign with a home match against Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

The Blues finished fourth in last season’s Premier League table, while Palace – now under the management of former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira – claimed 14th for the second successive campaign.

Match preview

Chelsea needed a penalty shootout to overcome Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday night, as the two teams could not be separated at the end of 120 minutes; it was yet more European silverware for the Blues, who spectacularly beat Manchester City in last season’s Champions League final.

Thomas Tuchel has made a huge impression at Stamford Bridge since his arrival, but there is no question that the London club need to show improvement in the Premier League this term, as they only just finished fourth last term, some 19 points behind the champions Man City.

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At the time of writing, Marcus Bettinelli is Chelsea’s only arrival this summer, but the club are on the verge of signing Romelu Lukaku, with the Inter Milan striker set to return to Stamford Bridge in a £97.5m deal.

The Blues played three pre-season friendlies over the summer, beating Bournemouth and Arsenal, in addition to drawing with Tottenham Hotspur, and Saturday’s clash with Palace is even more important than it might have been considering that Tuchel’s side have a tough start to the campaign.

Indeed, the European Cup winners will visit Arsenal and Liverpool in their two games after the clash with Palace, while a tough September sees them face Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Man City.

Team News

Chelsea will definitely be without the services of Hakim Ziyech, who suffered a shoulder injury during the UEFA Super Cup with Villarreal on Wednesday night.

JorginhoMason MountAndreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta all appeared off the bench against the Yellow Submarine, and it would not be a surprise to see all four players come into the XI this weekend.

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Marcos Alonso could ultimately get the nod as the left-sided wing-back due to Ben Chilwell‘s lack of action since the end of last season, while Reece James might also start on the bench, with Callum Hudson-Odoi operating on the right.

Further forward, Timo Werner and Mount could be joined by Kai Havertz, with Lukaku potentially on the bench if the Belgium international’s move from Inter is confirmed on time.

As for Palace, new signing Olise is unlikely to be available due to a back problem, while Eberechi Eze is definitely out, as the midfielder works his way back from a serious Achilles injury.

Nathan Ferguson is also out with an Achilles rupture, while Vieira will need to assess the fitness of a number of players before naming his starting XI this weekend.

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Wilfried Zaha is a certainty to start in the final third of the field, while there could be a debut for Guehi against his former club, but Gallagher is ineligible to play against his parent side, having arrived on loan from Tuchel’s side this summer.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Werner, Havertz

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Guehi, Mitchell; McArthur, Riedewald, Schlupp; Zaha, Mateta, Ayew

Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace

Chelsea cannot afford to drop points on the opening weekend when taking into account their difficult start to the season, and we are expecting the Blues to triumph on Saturday. Palace have shown plenty of positive signs during pre-season but should come up just short against the European Cup winners.

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