Chelsea will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Premier League when they make the short trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace this evening.
The Blues, who defeated Palace 4-0 at Stamford Bridge back in October, suffered their first defeat of the Thomas Tuchel era last weekend when they were stunned by relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion, losing 5-2 at Stamford Bridge.
It was a shock result for a variety of reasons, none more so than the fact that Chelsea have been defensively solid since the German took charge towards the end of January.
Whilst Chelsea are seeking a return to winning ways in the league, they have since shown signs of life after last Saturday’s shock result, beating Portuguese outfit FC Porto 2-0 in the first-leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final showdown on Wednesday evening.
Goals either side of the half time interval from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell sealed the win for the Blues, meaning they will head into the second-leg on Tuesday evening in a commanding position to reach the semi-finals.
But before Tuchel and his players can even begin to think about resuming their battle with Porto, they must first overcome Crystal Palace in their pursuit of a top-four finish this season.
Ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park, Tuchel’s squad is in a relatively strong position as they are currently injury free and the only player who will be absent this evening will be Thiago Silva. The Brazilian was sent-off for two bookable offences last weekend and must serve a one-match ban against Roy Hodgson’s Eagles.
On a positive note, Tuchel has delivered an encouraging update on Christian Pulisic’s fitness after he suffered a hamstring problem last weekend, confirming that he can be called upon but his fitness load will have to be monitored.
Tuchel said: “His fitness is always important because he has a huge impact with sprint and intensity at the highest level. It’s one of his biggest strengths but he needs to feel confident and calm neatly.
“Then he can be a huge weapon for us. He scored against West Brom but the overall game and his need to go off at half time clouded the goal and impact he had but now against he was very close to scoring.
“He can have a huge impact from the bench. We have to take care of him, hopefully he won’t be re-injured. I feel him getting stronger and more confident.
“He can be a decisive factor with his speed, ability to dribble and arrive in the box from dangerous situations.
“Hopefully he can have that impact. It’s our job to push him there.”
With only Silva out of the running to feature for the Blues this evening, it could make Tuchel’s task of naming his starting line-up tricky, as he is bound to have one eye on Tuesday’s huge clash with Porto. One area of the team he may struggle to decide on is in central midfield.
The German is spoilt for choice in that area of the team, with the likes of Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante, Billy Gilmour and Jorginho all chomping at the bit to prove their worth.
Since the season resumed following the recent international break, both Jorginho and Kovacic have started against both West Brom and Porto, meaning it is highly likely that their partnership could continue against Palace.
And judging by Jorginho’s activity on social media, he looks poised to retain his place in the team.
Taking to Instagram, the Italy international has posted a fixture advertisement graphic, featuring two images of himself, the fixture and the kick-off time.
Interestingly, other members of Chelsea’s squad have done the same this season, including both Chilwell and Mount.
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However, it should be noted that other players have done it in the past when only named amongst the substitutes and not in the starting line-up.
Since Tuchel took charge at Stamford Bridge, Jorginho has featured 12 times.
In all this season, the former Napoli star has racked up 30 appearances, scoring seven goals and registering two assists.