Chelsea have had a miserable season until the halfway point and sit at a lowly 14th place as the New Year passed us by. With them well and truly out of the title race and seemingly, the Champions League race, it is the Europa League spot that Chelsea have set their sights on realistically. Turns out, Crystal Palace who sit a lofty 5th and who have impressed under Alan Pardew this season, also harbour the same ambitions domestically. Chelsea will definitely need to provide a couple of kick up the butts of a few players to get them wide awake as if they failed now, it could even mean relegation. Keeping in mind the current affairs over at the Pensioners, expect Hiddink to line up as follows:
Keeper: Thibaut Courtois
The young Belgian is arguably the best keeper in the league and is only provided competition from De Gea for the top spot. He owns the box, picking off crosses, blocking one v ones with ease and showing amazing reflex saves as he takes the Number 1 position at Chelsea with relative comfort. This is probably one of the only three positions at Chelsea where we know who will start.
Left Back: Baba Rahman
The Ghanaian full back has been underutilised ever since he was signed from Augsburg but he should be given a chance considering the Eagles are missing their wingers to injury. Baba can showcase his brilliant attacking forays against the toothless Palace side and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he crosses in a lovely ball for the inform Costa to tap in or head home.
Centre Back: John Terry
Slowly returning to a better form, it would be widely expected that Terry would start the match to contain the Palace striker, all of whom have been less than impressive so far.
Centre Back: Kurt Zouma
The best central defender at Chelsea if going by form. He has all it takes to be a legend and Cahill has regressed too far while Zouma has advanced too much to make Cahill even an option at this position.
Right Back: Cesar Azpilicueta
The best full back in the league has the chance to play on his more natural wing and as Palace would look to give away possession, he would also bomb forward, using his crossing skills to set up the big burly Costa in the middle.
Centre Mid: Nemanja Matic
The best midfielder in the league last season plays in midfield trying to constrict Eagles in this zone and with the loss of Cabaye, it would be hard to keep shackles on this very frugal dribbler.
Centre Mid: Cesc Fabregas
Fabregas is widely expected to return in the lineup as Chelsea would look to him for inspiration for breaking up the miserly Eagles’ defence.
Centre Mid: John Obi Mikel
Mikel is a trusted lieutenant of Hiddink and provides stability in the midfield. His services will be required to break up the direct play from Palace.
Left Wing: Eden Hazard
The Belgian takes this spot as he recovers from a slow start and eases into the season finally. He looked a bag full of tricks against Watford and could well pave the way for a top 6 finish starting today.
Striker: Diego Costa
The much maligned striker was brilliant against Watford and will look to further his interests by scoring again as soon as possible, starting with the Eagles, as the New Year looms large.
Right Wing: Willian
The best player for Chelsea will take his usual role with the set pieces and his admirable industry. He is a nailed on starter in the side with his current performances.