Paul Merson states his prediction for Chelsea FC v Crystal Palace

Sunday, 11 Mar, 2018

Conte also revealed defender Antonio Rudiger missed the game with "muscular fatigue" but will be in contention to face Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 second leg on Wednesday.

The Blues will kick off with the aim of putting a turbulent few days behind them that have put Conte's future under the microscope once more.

After Manchester United defeated Liverpool at Old Trafford, we go into today's game knowing that a win would close the gap between ourselves and the Reds to just four points.

"Chelsea could be virtually out of the race for the top four this weekend".

This season the former Manchester United winger has been comfortably Palace's best player.

If the outing against Manchester City was any indication, then Antonio Conte's men are going through a huge confidence crisis; something, that they have been prone to in the recent past. The Chelsea players will have one eye on Barcelona next week, and Palace have been unlucky recently.

He said: "Normally when you come against a team not having the best of times, that can be a very unsafe time to play them".

"Chelsea are the champions of England". Can they do a double over the current champions? We need three points and we know very well that we are playing against a good team with talented players. "And they tell me there wasn't too much wrong with it".

After successive starts against Spurs and United, a third could follow at Chelsea, and Hodgson hopes we are witnessing the start of a promising Premier League career.

Tiemoue Bakayoko could feature against the Eagles on Saturday after the midfielder returned back to Chelsea training after his injury, whilst Conte also stated that starting with one of his strikers was certainly an option.

However, Palace boss, Roy Hodgson said on Thursday that Zaha has made a "remarkable" recovery and could be on the substitutes' bench at Stamford Bridge. "We are working very well as always". The initial prognosis was end of season, rather than six weeks. The return of key players in due course will help them start winning games against sides around them in the league. "But if he's physically fit medically and mechanically, there's no reason he couldn't be involved".

Chelsea is still hopeful to move into the top four, now sitting five points behind Tottenham.

- Chelsea posted 27 shots in this game; their most in a Premier League game this season and since May 21 2017 vs Sunderland (28).