Paul Merson states his prediction for Chelsea FC v Crystal Palace

  • Paul Merson states his prediction for Chelsea FC v Crystal Palace

Paul Merson states his prediction for Chelsea FC v Crystal Palace

Of his 29 Premier League appearances this season, 13 have been off the bench, but the form he has shown recently has ensured he is at the forefront of manager Antonio Conte's thoughts.

The top four places in the Premier League have even more value now that they are all worth a guaranteed spot in next season's Champions League group stages and the Blues, the last English side to win Europe's premier club competition are at risk of missing out next season.

Pedro of Chelsea dejected after conceding to make it 1-0 during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on March 4, 2018, in Manchester, England.

Chelsea's title defence has been disastrous, with the defending champions languishing in fifth place, a incredible 25 points behind runway leaders Manchester City. "Top, cream of the crop, he's unbelievable", United manager Jose Mourinho said after his side's win over Chelsea two weeks ago. It's a fight for survival.

Chelsea will be successful if they impose themselves on their opponents, taking the game to them and playing at their own tempo.

"It's important to have balance within the game, because when we lose our balance it's very hard". "To see them in this position in the table is a bit odd".

Conte will ask more questions of the system if either striker uses the Crystal Palace match like an audition for the Barcelona match.

"It would be unrealistic for him to start the game".

"It's a remarkable recovery, but we don't think he'll be able to come back like the Wilf Zaha he was before the injury after two modified sessions", Hodgson continued.

Loanee Timothy Fosu-Mensah is available after being ineligible against parent club Manchester United on Monday.

Zaha has been out of action since picking up a knee ligament injury against Newcastle United back in February, and looks set to be back in action after just over a month out.

Chelsea are in danger of losing three successive top-flight home London derbies to the same opposition for the first time since 1974 (against Arsenal).

They have lost four of their last five league games; as many defeats as in their previous 30 matches.

Wilfried Zaha has scored in his last two Premier League games against Chelsea, including the victor in the reverse fixture for the Eagles' first Premier League win of the season in October.

The Eagles are without a win in their last six league games.

The French midfielder is a bundle of energy. Expect them to feel the full force of a Chelsea backlash as Brighton did back in January.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Palace's trip to Chelsea on Saturday, he said: "Wilf's had a ball at his feet for a while, training solo with the rehab people and the physios". With only one win in their last five league games, Chelsea are hardly in the best of shape and have let down odds-on backers on several occasions recently.