14 mins: Chelsea are trying to force the issue down their right-hand side but Mitchell copes well with Madueke.
12 mins: Hughes is too quick for Fernandez and the midfielder clips him, giving Palace a free-kick in a dangerous possession on the right. Hughes to take … and it is tamely flicked wide by Richards.
10 mins: Palace’s plan seems to involve being quite direct and turning Thiago Silva around because he is pretty old. It could work.
Palace enjoy a slick move, sending the ball out to Ayew on the right but his cross is met by no one, possibly because Mateta is too slow to react to it.
8 mins: Chelsea are still having all the possession and Palace are not particularly eager with their press.
“Mr Unwin,” says a very formal Jon Rendall. “As a Palace fan, I am trepidatious regarding tonights outcome. The clouds above Selhurst suggest we’re in for a pumping. Tell me it won’t be so…
“Enjoy your insight on Football Weekly. Genuinely.”
*Blushes*. The signs are, sadly, ominous, Jon.
6 mins: Palace have a free-kick! It is lumped up the pitch and they manage a couple of touches before Ayew swipes a low shot from 20 yards but it is straight at the goalkeeper.
4 mins: Franca is done by Madueke’s quick feet and fouls him midway inside the Palace half. The free-kick is taken quickly to Gusto down the right but his cross goes over everyone. We are still waiting for Palace to touch the ball …
“I see a bowling analogy in this match,” Peter Oh has gone out on a limb. “Palace are the pins (made of Crystal). Chelsea are the (Boehly-ng) ball.
“Time will tell if the ball will produce a smashing strike, or a sorry gutter ball. You just can’t tell from Chelsea’s form.”
2 mins: Chelsea have had every touch so far tonight. Palace look happy to give them the ball. I am not sure the home fans will feel the same.
Richard Hirst says: “As a Fulham supporter I would normally be fervently anti-Chelsea and in favour of the Blessed Roy, but I don’t feel safe yet, despite three points on Saturday, so unfortunately it has to be the blues tonight.”
1 min: Dave Bryant emails: “Regarding the pic at the top of the blog, is tonight’s game in Mordor?”
*Googles ‘Mordor’* … yes.
Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we go!
Here come the teams!
“While being no great fan of Uncle Roy I do feel some sympathy for him. Palace have one of the weakest squads in the league,” says Paul Rowe. “Remove Eze and Olise and it’s very Championship in midfield and up top. They haven’t had a decent right back for ages and if Guehi, Anderson or Mitchell are out there is nobody of Premier League standard to replace them.
“Of course they might still win if bad Chelsea are playing tonight…”
Joe Pearson emails: “Any good Romanian leftovers lately? I need ideas for new dishes.”
My mother-in-law was over for Christmas, leaving us with enough to feed a family for a month. I made a chicken, bacon and bean stew for dinner. No leftovers, alas.
I am debating what can be done for Pancake Day tomorrow …
Monday Night Football have Belfast Giants goaltender Petr Cech on. What a get.
Speaking of Baz, you can hear him alongside Max, John Brewin and little old me on Football Weekly.
Check out Mr Glendenning’s Football Daily on this very match.
Which manager is under more pressure that is the question? I will say Hodgson. I would argue the Palace squad is pretty uninspiring but maybe a more dynamic coach would help get the best out of the those available.
Thiago Silva starts for Chelsea. Jacob Steinberg looks at the really old centre-back (one of the few Premier League players more advanced in years than I).
Crystal Palace: Henderson; Munoz, Andersen, Richards, Mitchell; Lerma, Hughes, Wharton; Franca, Ayew, Mateta.
Subs: Johnstone, Ward, Tomkins, Clyne, Schlupp, Riedewald, Ozoh, Ahamada, Edouard.
Chelsea: Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Silva, Chilwell; Fernandez, Caicedo, Gallagher; Palmer, Madueke, Jackson.
Subs: Bergstrom, Chalobah, Gilchrist, Colwill, Casadei, Chukwuemeka, Sterling, Mudryk, Nkunku.
It is one of many London derbies as Chelsea make the lengthy journey to Selhurst Park. As it is half-term this week, the travel time should be halved, which will be a relief to the poor old coach driver. Personally, I would just have taken the train from London Bridge to Norwood Junction and walked the rest, but footballers are all prima donnas nowadays so want to travel on a fancy coach with coffee-making facilities.
The two managers, Roy Hodgson and Mauricio Pochettino, are under pressure. Both sets of fans think their respective teams are not reaching their potential. Hodgson is the more likely to receive the chop first but it would seem Palace’s top bosses do not know who would replace him in the dugout. They start the night in 15th place but have not lost in their past three home games, which should give them a little confidence.
Chelsea are still an enigma. Their expensive recruitment policy is yet to show its worth. A whopping billion quid has been spent on a squad that sits 11th and has failed to convince for the majority of the season. On the upside, the Blues put in their best performance last time out when they gave Aston Villa a shooing on their own patch in the FA Cup but their last Premier League outing was a miserable 4-2 home defeat to Wolves.
It certainly should be interesting!
Kick-off: 8pm GMT