Date: Saturday 14th August 2021
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Our final game of last season ended with us lifting the Champions League trophy against Manchester City and this season has started in a similar vein. So, after lifting the UEFA Super Cup against Villareal on Wednesday night, this afternoon, it’s our opening game of the 2021/22 Premier League season, as we take on Crystal Palace.
The Eagles, who finished 14th last season, had a poor finish to the campaign but have kept themselves busy pre-season and fared well with four wins from five. Having done the customary mid-season manager change, Chelsea battled to finish the campaign in fourth place, 19 points away from the Champions Manchester City, who we went on to beat in the Champions League final (I may have mentioned that already).
After the Euro’s we squeezed in 3 pre-season friendlies, coming away with wins against Bournemouth and Arsenal, and drawing against Spurs, to win the Mind Series. We topped off our preparation for the 2021/22 season with the UEFA Super Cup, so personally, I hope this winning malarkey has become a habit.
Crystal Palace have parted company with players like Andros Townsend, Patrick van Aanholt, James McCarthy, Scott Dann and Gary Cahill and freshened up with new arrivals Marc Guehi, Joachim Andersen, Michael Olise, Remi Matthews, Jacob Montes and Conor Gallagher, as well as a new manager in Patrick Vieira. They’ve also held onto Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke, so they won’t be short of an attacking threat or motivation.
We’ve lost two of our last four opening games, we don’t have our new signing available today and we’ve got tougher games coming up, so there’s no room for complacency this afternoon if we want to get some points on the board.
Going into today’s game, Thomas Tuchel, says “When you come fourth, you are not favourite the next season. We have gaps to close. We let Liverpool pass us, we have gaps to close to Manchester City. I don’t see why they should be any worse than last season. We feel like we need still some time to be in the best physical shape. I hope we play with this mentality, we want to hunt them down and not from January on, but from Saturday on. This is the mentality with which we approach this season. We see ourselves as hunters and challengers to the three teams who were in front of us.
We need the spectators to be at their best level as well. Enthusiasm they produce and it should be a hard one to play against us.”
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira, meanwhile, says “[Tuchel is] one of the great managers in the Premier League and in Europe. A really strong team around him, Chelsea playing good football. A challenging game for us, but we are up for it. We will see at the end, but we are believing in ourselves. With the difficulty we will face, we are up for it.”
For Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku’s transfer dragged on a bit too long for him to feature today. Hakim Ziyech is out with the shoulder injury he picked up in the Super Cup and N’Golo Kante has “some issues” from that game as well, so is unlikely to be available.
For Crystal Palace, Eberechi Eze, Nathan Ferguson (both Achilles), Luka Milivojevic (personal reasons) and Michael Olise (back) are all expected to miss out on the season opener. Conor Gallagher will also sit this one out because he’s ineligible to play against us.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Werner, Havertz
CRYSTAL PALACE (Possible line-up): Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Guehi, Mitchell; McArthur, Riedewald, Schlupp; Zaha, Mateta, Ayew
Chelsea 4-0 Crystal Palace (3rd October 2020)
- Chelsea have won 16 of their last 20 against Crystal Palace in the Premier League, including the last seven in a row.
- Crystal Palace have lost their last four visits to Stamford Bridge.
- Chelsea have won 17 of the past 22 opening league games but have lost two of the last four
- Crystal Palace have won two of their last three season openers in the Premier League
- Chelsea lost two of their last three Premier League games of the 2020-21 season.
BBC Sport: Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace
Sky Sports: Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace
Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace