Potential Chelsea lineup against Crystal Palace


Chelsea prepared for its Champions League trip to Barcelona by beating Crystal Palace 2-1 on Saturday to close the gap on the English Premier League top four to two points.

The Blues have lost four of their last five games in the league, and they come into this on the back of consecutive defeats to Manchester clubs.

Roy Hodgson refuses to believe that Chelsea's current calamities have made them extra vulnerable to an upset at home to his Crystal Palace side.

The defeat leaves the Eagles stranded in 18th place, one point adrift of Southampton in 17th.

Chelsea deservedly received scathing criticism for their extraordinarily negative approach in last week's 1-0 defeat at champions elect Manchester City. He was understudy to Hazard in 2015, when they won the Premier League title under Jose Mourinho, and against under Conte previous year.

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Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, says his side can not afford to drop more points from now til the end of the season following their recent struggles.

Roy Hodgson has done a commendable job considering the club had failed to record a single win or goal when he was hired, but injuries to a number of key players have made life hard for the former England manager. Antonio Conte has cut a disgruntled figure throughout the campaign and it would be something of a surprise if the Italian remained in charge at Stamford Bridge next season. His presence in the middle of the park ensures that Chelsea's creative forwards will enjoy more freedom in possession than they are used to. We are talking about a player with great experience.

Willian broke the deadlock on 25 minutes at Stamford Bridge, firing a low shot beyond Wayne Hennessey to net his fifth goal in his last five Chelsea appearances, the best form of his Blues career. When you play against City there is the possibility to lose the game.

"I tried to keep him for another season but he wanted to play and I understood this". They have fantastic players and are a brilliantly run club, a powerful club. Bakary Sako, Connor Wickham, Julian Speroni, Mamadou Sakho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon are all ruled out for this game with injuries. Palace have drawn nine games in the league this season but only one of these has come against teams in the top nine of the division. Ross Barkley, Tiemoue Bakayoko and David Luiz are all set to miss out.