N’Golo Kante is back for Chelsea! He’s one of three changes to the XI named for the absurd eight-goal thriller with Ajax. Also in: Emerson and young hero Reece James. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta earns a rest on the bench, while Jorginho and Marcos Alonso drop out altogether.
Palace make just the one change to the team named for the 2-0 defeat to Leicester last Sunday. Andros Townsend is back from injury and replaces Jeffrey Schlupp.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson, Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Mount, Pulisic, Abraham.
Subs: Christensen, Caballero, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Batshuayi, Azpilicueta, Gilmour.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, van Aanholt, Townsend, Kouyate, Milivojevic, McArthur, Zaha, Ayew.
Subs: Dann, Hennessey, Schlupp, Benteke, McCarthy, Kelly, Riedewald.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Chelsea are a lot of fun right now. So far this season, Frankie’s Freewheelers have been involved in a 7-1, a 5-2, a 4-2, a 4-1, a 3-2, two 2-2s and of course that wonderfully absurd 4-4 against Ajax the other night. Last weekend, were it not for Ben Foster, they could easily have beaten Watford by ten goals; as it panned out, were it not for Kepa Arrizabalaga, they’d have ended up drawing 2-2. They can just as easily ship points at home as thrash someone away. They’re making Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle look like Helenio Herrera’s Inter. Yeah, they’re a whole world of fun.
They’ve also won five Premier League matches in a row – a sequence that’s earned Lampard the manager-of-the-month award for October – so today’s visitors Crystal Palace will approach Stamford Bridge with some trepidation. The Eagles haven’t won in three, and they’ve only scored ten goals in their first 11 matches. In that sense, they’re going into the lion’s cage with neither whip nor chair.
Then again, Palace have already won at Old Trafford this season, no small feat even when Manchester United aren’t at the top of their game. And they came back from two goals down to draw at Arsenal, no small feat even when Arsenal etc., and so on, and so forth. Plus Roy Hodgson will be in a celebratory mood: it’s his 300th game as a Premier League manager. So congratulations to him for that.
Chelsea have won the last three against Palace, and everyone expects them to make it four in a row this lunchtime. Will they reclaim third place, for a few hours at least? Or will Palace frustrate another big boy on the road? We’re about to find out. It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm GMT.