Coming back fresh from winning the UEFA Super Cup, Chelsea will kick start their 2021-22 season at Stamford Bridge this Saturday and will face Crystal Palace, who have former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira as their new manager.
Chelsea finished at fourth place in the points table with 67 points to their name in the previous season and coming into the new 2021-22 season after being crowned as European Champions and then recently winning the UEFA Super Cup, every blues fan will have huge expectations from Thomas Tuchel and his side as they are currently looking like title contenders for this season and after the inclusion of an in-form Romelu Lukaku to this Chelsea side, this team can be unstoppable.
As for Crystal Palace, they previously finished at 14th position for the second consecutive year with 44 points. And after Roy Hodgson left the club at the end of the 2020-21 season, the Eagles went through some transitional period and has brought on former Nice manager Patrick Vieira as their new manager for the 2021-22 season.
Under Vieira’s managership, they beat Xisco Munoz’s Watford 3-1 in a pre-season friendly as their attack, which was spearheaded by Wilfred Zaha and Cristian Benteke looked pretty solid upfront. Their defense was not put into too much of a test as they conceded just one goal and overall had a pretty decent performance. The expectations for Vieira and his men will be quite low as it will be Vieira’s first season with the Eagles but still, the Palace fans will expect them to perform well and atleast finish at the top half of the points table.
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistant Referees: Marc Perry, Timothy Wood
Video Assistant Referee: Graham Scott
Fourth Official: James Linington
When and Where?
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London
Date: 14 August 2021
Time: 14:00 (GMT)
Thomas Tuchel and his blues will miss-out on the services of Hakim Ziyech as he suffered a shoulder injury while playing against Villareal in the recent UEFA Super Cup. But other than that, Thomas Tuchel is expected to have a fully-fit squad ahead of their clash against Crystal Palace.
Partick Vieira and his eagles won’t be able to use their young and talented midfielder Eberechi Eze and defender Nathan Ferguson as both of them are suffering from Achilles injury. Their new signing Michael Olise will also miss out on this game as he is suffering from a minor back injury. Also, loanee Connor Gallagher won’t be available for this match as he is not permitted to play against his parent club, Chelsea.
There is a lot of talks around how Tuchel will use Timo Wener and Kai Havertz with Romelu Lukaku leading the line once he is available (probably next weekend against Arsenal). Though from what we’ve seen in the pre-season – Timo will play slightly to his left for Havertz to exploit the space in the middle. This soon will puff off more for Chelsea with Lukaku in the middle, but today the German duo will have to do the job.
Timo, with his pace, can exploit Crystal Palace on through balls although it’s important that he stays clinical in front of the goal.
Free flow again?
With Patrick Vieira coming in at Palace, may expect him to bring the creative free-flow football to the Premier League again. Having spent most of his learning years under Arsene Wenger, Vieira is touted to continue his legacy for expressive lovely football. The Frenchman has brought in some creative outlets to support these chatters. Though Michael Olise and Connor Gallagher to miss out on Palace’s Premier League opener – it would be exciting to see who would be the Eagles’ creative outlet bar Zaha.
As Chelsea looks ever closer to sign a new striker in Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan, huge pressure will be on Werner’s shoulder as he looks to make an impression on Thomas Tuchel and the rest of Chelsea supporters. Although on the outside it does look like he had a pretty decent debut season, winning the Champions League and the Super Cup, still on a personal level, Werner’s debut season can be summarized as of missing big chances to score in big games which have eventually put the team under some pressure and sometimes hurting Chelsea, especially, in the 2020-21 FA Cup final against Leicester City as they lost that game 1-0.
His pace and positioning will be critical for Crystal Palace’s defence, as Timo can make them go havoc (like we saw in Havertz’ goal against Arsenal in the Mind Series)
Once again it will be up to Wilfred Zaha to lead this Crystal Palace side against Chelsea come game-week 1. Patrick Vieira and the rest of the Eagles fans will look for Zaha to bring in his magic and give Chelsea’s tight-knitted defense plenty of problems to worry about. It’s not just the goals that fans will be expecting from him but also crucial crosses and assists and making the team’s attacking game-plays. He will be expected to lead Palace’s attack and to be dominating with his game.
After being in the 14th position for the second consecutive year, Fans will expect the team and especially Zaha to step up his game and give Crystal Palace a good start for the upcoming season by winning their first match of the League against Chelsea. It will not be easy but as an experienced campaigner in this young Crystal Palace side, many things will be expected from him in their clash against Chelsea and also in their future games for their new season.
Chelsea XI (3-4-2-1): Edouard Mendy (GK), Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Cristensen, Antonio Rudiger, Reece James, Marcos Alonso, N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner.
Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Vicente Guaita (GK), Joel Ward, Cheikhou Kouyate, Marc Guehi, Tyrick Mitchell, Jeffrey Schlupp, Jairo Riedewald, James McArthur, Wilfried Zaha, Jean-Philippe Mateta, Christian Benteke.