Chelsea will be keen to address their recent defensive woes and move to second in the Premier League table, when they host a resurgent Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Blues shipped three goals each in their last two league games, against relegation battlers Sunderland and Stoke City. Jose Mourinho, known for organising a tight defence during his first spell at Chelsea, has seen his club making ridiculous errors at the back of late, leaking goals even against below par teams. Defending set-pieces have been their biggest issue this season, with even veterans like John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic failing to sort out the probem.
The 3-2 loss at the Britannia Stadium last week also handed Mourinho his first league defeat with Chelsea in December; a month in which he boasted a fantastic win ratio till now. The west London outfit has rarely looked convincing this season and are currently five points behind leaders Arsenal but the Portuguese tactician, who has never lost a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge, will be confident of a clinching all three points against Palace tonight.
Palace, on the other hand, have surprisingly found a good run of form at long last and have posted wins in three of their last four matches. Back-to-back victories over West Ham United and Cardiff City have raised the Eagles' spirit and they will now fancy their chances against the mighty Chelsea.
Tony Pulis' men can also boast a disciplined defence now, having conceded just one goal from their last five league matches. However, they have generally suffered on their travels, losing six matches on the road this season and conceding 12 goals in the process.
Chelsea: Gary Cahill has been rested for this game, after the England international required treatment on his quadriceps during midweek. Also, fellow defender Ryan Bertrand (knee) is out for another week, while youngsters Marco van Ginkel (knee) and Tomas Kalas (leg) remain long-term absentees.
Palace: Wing-back Dean Moxey is doubtful for Pulis' side, after being forced off with a hamstring injury during last week's win over Cardiff. Defenders Jack Hunt (foot), Paddy McCarthy (groin), midfielder Adlene Guedioura (ribs) and forwards Jerome Thomas (ankle) and Glenn Murray (knee) all remain sidelined. However, winger Yannick Bolasie is available again after serving a suspension.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for an 8.30 pm IST start on Saturday night, with Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD 2 providing live coverage in India.You can also catch all the action live online by clicking HERE. Viewers in the U.K. can live stream the match HERE. U.S. viewers click HERE. To catch the action in Australia, click HERE. To Live Stream the match in the Middle East and North Africa via live streaming, click HERE.
Expected lineups: Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Lampard; Mata, Oscar, Hazard; Torres
Palace: Speroni; Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Mariappa; Puncheon, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Bannan; Chamakh, Jerome
Prediction: 2-0 to Chelsea