Chelsea’s young guns produced a stunning comeback to draw 4-4 with Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday, having found themselves 4-1 down early in the second half.
As a result, Frank Lampard’s men will come into Saturday’s Premier League tussle with Crystal Palace full of confidence, hoping to extend their winning run in the league to six games.
Their next opponents are without a win in three matches, but they did recently come from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Arsenal at the Emirates. Roy Hodgson’s men will look to make it hard for the home side and will be hoping to exploit any gaps on the counter.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the starting XI Lampard should pick for Saturday’s encounter…
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – While some fans have criticised Kepa for his performance in midweek against Ajax, the Spaniard is undoubtedly the club’s first-choice goalkeeper. In the win over Watford, he produced a magnificent save to deny fellow shot-stopper Ben Foster a late equaliser. He will know that he has only been able to keep two clean sheets in the league and, therefore, he will be desperate to claim a third on Saturday.
Reece James (RB) – Reece James was magnificent on Tuesday night and he deserves to start against Crystal Palace. The youngster came off the bench at half-time, with Lampard looking for more from his full-backs. The 19-year-old was constantly pushing the Ajax midfield and defence back, acting as a real outlet for the Blues. Of course, he also bagged a dream goal to make it 4-4. He certainly took his chance and Lampard should reward him with a start in the Premier League on Saturday.
Kurt Zouma (CB) – Although Andreas Christensen is back in contention, Zouma is expected to retain his place in the team. The centre-back produced a moment of magic on Tuesday as he weaved his way through the entire Ajax team…before firing a shot well over the top.
Fikayo Tomori (CB) – While the Blues have struggled to shut out their opposition this term, Tomori has been one of the club’s standout performers and is certainly expected to retain his place in the team.
Cesar Azpilicueta (LB) – Saturday’s clash could see the captain move over to the left-back slot in order to make way for Reece James. The Spaniard played on the left for the second half against Ajax, and it’s fair to say he shone in this role. He bagged one goal and found the net a second time, only for the second strike to be ruled out for a handball in the buildup. Emerson missed out on Tuesday and although he may be fit to play on the weekend, Azpilicueta was very impressive and deserves to retain his place.
N’Golo Kante (CM) – He’s back. Kante was on the bench on Tuesday, but he was not brought on. However, with Jorginho ruled out through suspension, the Frenchman is expected to start and his return will be a major boost for Lampard and his team.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – Last season, it was hard to tell what Kovacic did for the team and what his best position was. However, this season is a completely different story. The midfielder has been excellent, constantly looking to carry the ball forward and link up with his teammates. A certain starter.
Christian Pulisic (AM) – Mason Mount limped out of Tuesday’s draw with an ankle problem, and may not be fit to start. Ross Barkley is expected to be passed fit to play, but Lampard has already shown that he is not willing to rush players back into the team after an injury layoff.
As a result, he may look towards Pulisic, who has been in scintillating form – bagging a hat-trick against Burnley before also netting against Watford. While the American can comfortably play in the number ten role, he will be interchanging with the wingers to make it a very fluid attacking setup.
Willian (RW) – Willian has silenced any critics in recent weeks with his fine displays and, as a result, he should retain his spot in the team. The winger has cemented his place in the Chelsea side and Lampard will look towards him once again on Saturday.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (LW) – The youngster has seen his place in the team come under threat in recent weeks as a result of the performances of Pulisic. However, Hudson-Odoi should return to the starting XI on Saturday and will be looking to take his chance.
Tammy Abraham (ST) – Abraham has been electric this season, having found the net nine times in the league already this season. Following his own goal on Tuesday night, he will be looking to make amends and continue his remarkable goalscoring form.