Having put in gargantuan efforts against both Tottenham and Manchester United only to come away with nothing, Palace fans won’t be pleased to learn that Chelsea expect to welcome a key man back into their squad ahead of Saturday’s game at Stamford Bridge.
After fainting in training last week, Ngolo Kante was ruled out of the Blues’ trip to face Manchester City, leaving Cesc Fabregas and Danny Drinkwater to partner each other in the centre of midfield. Their performance was underwhelming to say the least, with fans and pundits across the country taking it in turns to aim digs at the visitors for a startling lack of ambition or energy throughout the contest.
One particular video shows Fabregas and his teammates allowing City to pass the ball from side to side in front of them with next to no attempt to disrupt their peace and quiet, let alone put a tackle in. Debate has raged as to whether or not it was a tactical decision from Antonio Conte or simply a downing of tools from the Chelsea players but you can be almost certain that Ngolo Kante won’t allow the same thing to happen when we make the trip to west London this Saturday.
With the daunting prospect of a trip to the Nou Camp just a few days after our clash this weekend, plenty of Palace fans will be hopeful of the hosts taking their eye off the ball to some extent but with a run of poor Premier League form haunting them and back-to-back home defeats against Palace in the last two years also sure to add to their pre-match motivation, I’m expecting Kante and co. to go at us full throttle from the very start of the game.
Now five points adrift of fourth placed Spurs with just nine games left to play, Conte’s men are in desperate need of a victory to keep their hopes of Champions League qualification alive. Obviously we’ll be desperate to upset the apple-cart with survival on our minds but the reintroduction of Kante is undoubtedly a major blow for Hodgson and his players.